June 2, 2010 3:15 PM, EDT

Auto Sales Rise in May

General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. posted sales increases in May as customers bought more sport utility vehicles, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

GM’s deliveries rose 17% from a year earlier to 223,822 units, topping the 5.9% increase forecast by analysts, while Ford’s sales rose 22%, topping the 16% gain that was forecast, Bloomberg said.

The two biggest U.S. automakers benefited from increased consumer confidence and gasoline prices that have stayed under $3 a gallon for more than 18 months, boosting demand for sport utility vehicles and pickups.

Chrysler Group LLC and Nissan Motor Co. also topped analysts’ sales estimates for the month, Bloomberg said, with Chrysler’s sales gaining 33%, higher than the 21% increase that was predicted, Bloomberg said.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automaker, said U.S. sales of Toyota, Lexus and Scion brand autos rose 6.7% in May, below the 7.5% forecasted.

Honda Motor Co., Japan’s second-largest automaker, said sales of its Honda and Acura brands rose 19%, to 117,173 vehicles, Bloomberg reported.