By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT (Reuters) - Strong demand for sport utility vehicles and trucks in June helped General Motors Co <GM.N> and Ford Motor Co <F.N> offset slowing demand for sedans by allowing them to raise prices on their trucks.
GM and Ford said on Wednesday increases in the average transaction prices for their vehicles, particularly trucks and SUVs, outpaced sales volume growth that fell short of Wall Street expectations. Ford, for example, said prices for its F-series trucks rose 8 percent, or $3,600, while sales volume for the pickup truck line dropped 8.9 percent in June.
U.S. June auto industry sales rose to about 1.48 million vehicles, up 4.5 percent from a year ago, said Bill Fay, a Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> U.S. sales executive.
GM's sales fell 3 percent last month as the company's small cars slid from year-ago figures, including a 13 percent drop in Cruze compact sales. Sales of GM's large SUVs also fell, reflecting fewer sales to fleets, a company spokesman said. But GM said average transaction prices for all vehicles rose almost $1,000 from a year earlier.
GM said analysts may have not factored in to their expectations the automaker's statement a month ago that its sales to rental agencies would fall by 20,000 vehicles in June.
GM shares were down 1.4 percent at $32.87 late on Wednesday morning. Ford shares were down 0.7 percent at $14.90.
Toyota said the U.S. industry would have an annualized sales rate for June of 17.2 million vehicles.
The National Automobile Dealers Association this week raised its forecast for 2015 U.S. auto sales to 17.2 million vehicles from 16.9 million. It would be the sixth straight year of solid gains since the recession.
While Ford's sales rose only 2 percent, it showed the largest increase in the market in the average price of its vehicles, industry consultant Kelley Blue Book said.
Ford's SUV sales rose 10 percent but car sales fell 3.5 percent.
U.S. auto sales, often an early snapshot into consumer spending each month, are expected to rise about 5 percent for the industry. Truck and SUV sales will again grow at a faster pace than sedans, aided by the low gasoline prices.
Toyota, No. 3 in the U.S market by sales, posted June sales of nearly 210,000 vehicles, up 4 percent, roughly in line with expectations.
Honda Motor Co <7267.T> showed sales of about 134,000 vehicles, up 4 percent from a year ago, on strong SUV sales.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' <FCAU.N> <FCHA.MI> U.S. June auto sales increased 8 percent from a year ago, boosted by the continued strength of its Jeep SUV brand.
Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> U.S. sales rose 13 percent, led by a 54 percent increase in its popular small SUV Rogue.
Sales of Fiat Chrysler's Jeep brand jumped 25 percent in June.
Chrysler brand sales rose 28 percent, and its Chrysler 200 sedan sales were up 153 percent to 18,560 vehicles. Private industry data reviewed by Reuters showed that in the first half of the year, a large portion of Chrysler 200 sedan sales were to rental agencies.
(This story has been corrected to show that GM planned to lower June rental sales by 20,000 vehicles, not by 20 percent, in paragraph 5)
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Matthew Lewis)