By Nick Carey
DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. new vehicle sales in July continued to show signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as Toyota Motor Corp on Monday posted its lowest sales decline since the virus outbreak slammed the sector in mid-March.
The Japanese automaker said its sales in July fell 19% versus the same month in 2019, to 169,484 units. That was Toyota's best month since before the pandemic shuttered North American production for two months and led to closed showrooms across numerous U.S. states.
The rebound in U.S. auto sales since hitting a bottom in April has seen major automakers scramble to ramp up production and boost weak inventories at dealerships, especially in states where they remained open throughout the shutdowns.
The rebound in sales, though, could be threatened by surging cases in southern and southwestern U.S. states, which have increased uncertainty over the U.S. economic recovery.
Hyundai Motor Co reported a year-on-year gain of 0.6% in U.S. sales for July, selling 57,677 units.
"Achieving an overall sales increase despite the ongoing pandemic is a tremendous accomplishment and speaks to the depth and quality of our product lineup and resiliency of our dealers," Hyundai's North American sales chief, Randy Parker, said in a statement.
The seasonally adjusted annualized rate for light vehicles sold in July was estimated at 14.52 million units, according to Wards Intelligence.General Motors last week said its ability to repay loans depended on a continued economic recovery and the assumption that U.S. new vehicle sales would finish the year at around 14 million units.
(Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Devika Syamnath)