GM with its new pickups, Ford with sport utility vehicles and Chrysler with its Jeep brand were able to take advantage of a rising market buoyed by improved housing starts. The pace of U.S. home construction jumped in April to its highest level since November. Housing starts climbed 13.2 percent to a 1.07 million annualized rate following March's 947,000 pace, the Commerce Department reported, and permits for future projects increased, a sign activity might accelerate in coming months.
Chrysler sales rose 17 percent to 194,421 vehicles in May, the 50th consecutive month of sales increases. The average of analyst predictions was 14 percent.
GM's deliveries, helped by Chevrolet Cruze sedans and Silverado pickups, rose 13 percent to 284,694. That beats a 6.4 percent increase projected by the average of analyst estimates.
Ford's light-duty vehicle sales rose 3 percent to 253,346 last month. Sales were projected to decline 0.2 percent, according to the average of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Nissan reported sales jumped 19 percent in May, beating estimates for an 11 percent increase.
Though U.S. auto sales exceeded 16 million from 1999 through 2007, domestic automakers weren't consistently profitable. This time, pricing discipline and lower costs are producing steady income for Chrysler and GM, five years after their bankruptcies, and Ford, which financed its own restructuring.