JOE WHITE: Shhh! Don’t say that ‘R’ word!

A gaggle of May sales reports from different regions and companies affirm that the slump in demand for new vehicles that at least some industry executives feared has not happened – so far.
In China, BYD boosted sales by 14 percent in May compared to April, according to preliminary figures from the China Passenger Car Association. That growth was ahead of the 2.4 percent month over month improvement reported for Tesla in the world’s largest vehicle market.
Even so, investors gave Tesla shares a lift this morning.
In the U.S., Ford said its vehicle sales in May rose 10.7 percent. Sales of the F-Series pickup truck line surged by nearly 43 percent.
Volvo Cars said its May sales rose by 31 percent.
Hyundai and Toyota last week reported strong U.S. sales, as reported by Automotive News.
Preliminary sales figures for May show that U.S. car and light truck sales achieved a 15.05 million annualized sales pace, according to Wards Intelligence. That’s well below pre-pandemic levels that bobbed around the 17 million level, but it’s not a recession.
Full second-quarter U.S. sales figures from all automakers won’t be released until July 3. But based on the first five months of the year, Detroit automakers are sticking with forecasts of relatively robust profits for 2023 – a point leaders of the UAW used last week to rally members to fight for big pay increases in contract talks this fall.
Granted, saying that there’s no recession in auto sales at a time of rising interest rates and geopolitical tension is like talking about a no-hitter in the seventh inning of a baseball game. But improved supplies of vehicles and healing supply chains appear to be coinciding with resilient demand. Fingers crossed.

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