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Hybrids, Crossovers Bolster May Auto Sales

Reflecting consumer trends towards more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicles, both domestic and Asian automakers see sales increases.

DEARBORN, Mich.- Ford Motor Co. said Friday its May sales were helped by its new crossover vehicles.

The Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX saw record sales, at 12,701 (+39 percent over April) and 3,490 (+20 percent), respectively. As a group, Ford’s crossover vehicles were up 67 percent over year-ago levels.

Total sales were down 7 percent to 259,470 units.

DaimlerChrysler AG saw a 4 percent increase over May 2006, bringing total sales to 221,164 units. The Chrysler Group rose 4 percent to 199,393 units.

The Jeep Patriot and the Jeep Wrangler provided the biggest boost to total sales. The Patriot rose 55 percent month-over-month, while the Jeep Wrangler rose 114 percent year-over-year.

Rounding out the Big Three, GM saw its sales rise 4.7 percent year-over-year to 375,682 units.

“Our May results were extremely positive as we saw strong total and retail sales increases. Our significant market share gains in full-size trucks and crossovers validates the decision we made to invest in industry-leading fuel economy in these important segments,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president, GM North American Sales, Service and Marketing.

GM said its second-quarter production target is unchanged. At 1.145 million, it is down 6 percent from May 2006 to 25,000 units. Its third-quarter production target is 1.075 million units, a 2 percent increase over third-quarter 2006 actual totals.

At 269,023 units, Toyota Motor Sales was up 9.7 percent over May 2006, setting an all-time, best-ever sales record. The Toyota Division rose 10.9 percent over May 2006 to 237,176, and the Lexus Division was up 2.1 percent to 31,847.

“As fuel prices and consumer confidence rose, the industry saw a move to passenger cars, with retail business posting sharp gains over a very challenging April,” said Jim Lentz, TMS executive vice president. “Despite the industry's shift toward passenger cars, Toyota's all-new Tundra hit an all-time high in May. As for hybrids, the market's appetite continues unabated, with Prius also establishing an all-time record.”

Year-to-date hybrid sales were up 75 percent over the same period last year to 119,154 units. The Toyota Division had a 121 percent rise in hybrid sales over May 2006.