WTG Chevy Cruze! I just read that the Chevrolet Cruze is the #1 selling car in the US for this month (and YTD I think). That's pretty impressive for a new model that was just relesed to market here. Of course there is something to be said for the huge loses that Japan is facing from the disaster over there, but the Cruze is still a great car.

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For the first time in years, a U.S. automaker has topped the passenger car sales charts.

Chevrolet's new compact Cruze was the best-selling car in the United States in June, new sales data show, cruising past perennial chart-toppers like the Toyota Camry and Honda Civic.

Chevy’s small car surge reflects parent General Motors’ increasing emphasis on small, fuel-efficient passenger cars. But the Cruze is also benefiting from an ongoing shortage of key Japanese models, including the 2012 update of the Civic.

GM — like the other domestic automakers — meanwhile, has seen a sharp build-up in inventory of unsold pickups and other trucks in recent months, a development that could produce problems going forward, especially if fuel prices surge again.

“With continued strong consumer demand for GM’s fuel-efficient vehicles, June was another solid month for us,” said Don Johnson, the carmaker’s vice president for U.S. sales operations. “The month caps a successful first half of 2011 for us in the U.S. market — our sales are up and we’ve gained share profitably.”

Chevy’s Cruze, the new compact model GM introduced last year, was not only the best-selling passenger car in the U.S. in June, it was also the third-best seller overall, coming in behind the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado pickups.

Sales totaled 24,896, about 1,100 more than the bigger Chevy Malibu and well ahead of the Toyota Camry. Normally one of the nation’s top-selling cars, the Camry squeaked into eighth place for June, with sales of 21,375, although the Toyota sedan still leads the passenger car ranks for the year.

Toyota sold 147,469 Camrys in the first six months of 2011, representing a 5 percent year-over-year decline and reflecting the ongoing production shortages plaguing many of the major Japanese carmakers. With 122,972 models sold so far this year, the popular Japanese sedan is still ahead of the diminutive Cruze.

The Honda Civic, meanwhile, fell out of the Top 10 list in June, where it normally ranks close to the Camry. Honda’s top American executive, John Mendel, recently warned that production of the 2012 Civic update won’t be back to normal until “sometime in the fall.”

Japanese makers, working with suppliers hard hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, have been pushing to get their assembly lines rolling as quickly as possible and now expect to be back up and running more quickly than earlier projections.

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(side note: They should join together Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra sales - they are typically greater than Ford F-series sales each year)