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June auto sales on pace for best showing since December '07: study

Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban SUV's are seen in Gaithersburg, Maryland May 1, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban SUV's are seen in Gaithersburg, Maryland May 1, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

DETROIT (Reuters) - June auto sales are on track for their best month since before the 2008-2009 sales plunge that helped lead to bankruptcies for two of the three top U.S. automakers, two leading forecasters said on Friday.

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said June sales will show a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 15.7 million vehicles sold, up 7.6 percent from a year ago and the best showing since December 2007.

"There is little question that the automotive market has strong momentum as we close out the first half of 2013," said Jeff Schuster, head of forecasting at LMC Automotive. "Looking forward, all the key fundamentals are in alignment to continue the current growth trend, with production capacity limitations being the only major visible risk."

LMC Automotive maintained its forecast for full-year 2013 sales at 15.4 million vehicles. Auto sales in 2012 were 14.5 million vehicles. Auto sales have been growing at a moderate pace since a dip to 10.4 million vehicles in 2009.

The average transaction price, the amount a new vehicle is sold for after incentives and other discounts are applied, was $28,900 in the first half of June, the highest ever for the month, the consultancies said.

Luxury auto sales are down, and so far in June, account for 11.7 percent of new-vehicle retail sales, down from 12.9 percent a year ago. That is largely because it has been 43 months since the average premium vehicle has been introduced or redesigned, compared with 35 months for non-luxury cars.

New luxury models are on the way. By the second quarter of 2014, the average time since introduction or redesign of premium models in showrooms will be 33 months, the consultancies said.

Ford Motor Co leads all manufacturers so far in 2013, with a 16 percent increase in production, led by the F-Series pickup truck, the Escape crossover vehicle and the Fusion midsize sedan.

Ford was the only major U.S. auto manufacturer that avoided bankruptcy in the 2008-2009 recession. Both General Motors and Chrysler went through government-sponsored bankruptcies in 2009.

North American vehicle production is up 5 percent in 2013, LMC and J.D. Power said.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall and Ben Klayman; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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