June 1, 2018 / 1:23 PM / a year ago

Fiat Chrysler reports 11 pct jump in U.S. May auto sales

June 1 (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said U.S. sales in May climbed 11 percent to 214,294, on the strength of retail deliveries to individual customers.

The automaker, the first to report U.S. May vehicle sales, said retail deliveries of 167,785 were the highest since July 2005.

May sales for the industry were expected to decline 1 percent from a year ago, industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said. Retail sales were projected at 1.27 million.

The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate in May was estimated at 17 million, according to analysts polled by Reuters.

General Motors, the No. 1 U.S. automaker, is no longer reporting monthly sales. Industry analysts estimated GM sales rose about 10 percent in May.

U.S. auto sales have been bumpy this year - down in February, up in March, down again in April - as consumers continue to shift away from traditional sedans into pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers, which are generally more expensive and generate higher profits for manufacturers.

Researcher Kelley Blue Book said average new vehicle transaction prices hit $35,635 in May, up 3.4 percent from a year ago, driven by still strong demand for trucks and SUVs.

Average transaction prices on full-size pickups climbed to $48,213, while full-size SUVs jumped to $63,349.

Last year, U.S. auto sales fell 2 percent after hitting a record high of 17.55 million in 2016. Sales are expected to fall again in 2018, partly as a result of rising interest rates and fuel prices, as well as a flood of used vehicles coming off lease. (Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit Editing by Frances Kerry)

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