Sales incentives helped U.S. auto sales rise in July, as major auto companies reported selling more than 120,000 more vehicles than the same month last year. GM retained its spot as the U.S. sales leader.
Sales of passenger cars rose by nearly 5 percent this July compared to last year, with sales of light trucks even higher, at 13.4 percent, according to data released Friday by research firm Autodata Corp.
GM sold 256,160 vehicles last month, beating Toyota's 215,802 and Ford's 211,467.
NPR's Sonari Glinton reports:
"Toyota, Ford, Nissan and Chrysler all saw their sales go up by double digits. And despite troubles at General Motors, sales at the Detroit car giant were up 9 percent over the same time last year.
Jessica Caldwell is a senior analyst at Edmunds.com. She says GM's recent spate of recalls may be helping it.
"'You have all these people coming back with these older cars into dealerships with these brand-new cars that are much nicer,' she says, 'and I think a lot of these people are leaving with new vehicles.'
"Meanwhile this month, victims of the GM ignition switch defect can begin filing claims for compensation. The company has set aside $400 million to cover the cost."
Sales of GM's cars slid by 3.8 percent from July 1013, but its light trucks and SUVs more than made up for it, spiking 17.5 percent, according to Autodata. In the calendar year to date, the company has sold 3.5 percent more cars.
Other automakers struggled. Some of the steepest sales declines were at Volvo, which sold 17 percent fewer vehicles compared to July of 2013, and Volkswagen, where sales were down 7.5 percent.
Honda also slumped, with a drop of nearly 4 percent from last July.