The last time Ford sold 70,000 F-Series pickups in a single month was March 2007 when unemployment was just 4.4%. The best-selling truck eclipsed that mark again in May 2013, gaining 30.6% to hit 71,604 sales. That's the best May since 2005, an era when the F-Series' clipped along at 800,000 or more sales a year.
Such is the pickup rebound, fueled by a construction market that saw some of the highest housing starts in recent months since 2008. The Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Chrysler's Ram pickups all had 20%-plus gains for the month — and this comes with little increases in incentives versus May 2012. Ford's recent plans to add jobs to its Kansas City, Mo., facility, where the F-150 is built, seems like a safe bet.
While Ford led Detroit's sales gains, Nissan's 24.7% sales increase led the largest Asian automakers. Sales for the Altima boomed 40.8%, and that's with slightly lower incentives versus a year ago. The rival Honda Accord added 11.7% to stay ahead by fewer than 1,500 sales. Virtually every Honda sale in May "represents a purchase by an individual customer," Honda sales chief John Mendel said in a statement — a reference to Honda's fleet sales, which are by far the lowest among the seven largest automakers.Other family cars had a mixed month. The Ford Fusion did well, but Toyota Camry sales were slightly down. GM's emergency refresh of the Chevrolet Malibu, meanwhile, couldn't come soon enough. Sales for the just-redesigned family sedan tumbled 36.1% in May, though some of that comes from lower incentives versus a steeply discounted 2012 Malibu a year ago.
With those top seven automakers reporting numbers, new-car sales added a healthy 8% in May to end the month above 15 million annualized sales. That resumes a pace seen from November to March but lost in April. It's easy to see why: Consumer confidence reached a five-year high in May, and new-car prices roughly stayed put for the first time since we've tracked them (November 2011). The average new car sold for $32,426 in May, according to CNW Marketing Research. That's up just 0.4% over May 2012, signaling a possible plateau to months of year-over-year price increases. Will it continue? Wait and see.
Here are May's top 10 sellers.