U.S. Auto Sales: May up 20 to 30 percent – VW CEO image

New car sales in United States are expected to increase 20 to 30 percent in May from a year earlier under a ‘steady solid recovery’ in 2012, Jonathan Browning Volkswagen Group of America CEO said, Reuters reports.

Sales are likely going to be stronger than the 20 percent increase Volkswagen initially forecast, but not as strong as the 30 percent plus increase some have forecast, Browning told reporters at an Automotive Press Association event.

The German automaker’s challenge is to become top of mind for U.S. consumers who know the brand but not its lineup.

“A lot of people think they’re familiar with Volkswagen, but most of that has to do with the historical offerings like the Bug,” Browning said.

The industry’s recovery remains strong despite tepid economic growth and a housing industry that has not yet recovered. The nation’s gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the nation’s economy — grew at a 2.2% annual rate in the first three months of 2012, the Commerce Department said in April.

Last week research firm Kelley Blue Book said new car sales look set to rise almost 30 per cent in May, the biggest gain in more than a year. The expected sales of 1,378,000 vehicles in May would translate to an annual selling rate of 14.2 million vehicles, matching January for the lowest pace of the year.

On the same time, Edmunds.com estimates that 1,391,163 new cars will be sold in May, up more than 30 percent from a year ago, putting the industry on pace to sell 14.4 million cars for the year.

Edmunds.com projects Toyota sales will jump nearly 90 percent in May, while Honda sales will climb nearly 50 percent.

Official sales reports are expected tomorrow.