July 5 - New vehicle sales in the United States for top global automakers rose in the second quarter on improving supply and strong demand, signaling that rising interest rates have not yet had a meaningful impact on purchases.

Vehicle production took a hit after the pandemic disrupted supply of semiconductor chips and other raw materials, hurting automakers' ability to meet the upsurge for personal transport.

Companies are now rushing to make up for the lost production as supply chain snags gradually ease.

"The jobs market has remained healthy, and consumers have found a way to buy new wheels," said Cox Automotive's Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke.

Toyota Motor's North America unit (TMNA) reported a 7.13% rise in U.S. sales to 568,962 units for the quarter ended June.

General Motors, however, surpassed Toyota in the quarter, with a near 19% rise in U.S. sales to a total of 691,978 units, including 15,652 electric vehicles (EV).

Compared to peers, the Japanese automaker has struggled to ship enough cars and trucks on time to dealers.

The supply chain is improving and "we expect the second half of the year to be better in production and wholesale to our dealers than the first half", said David Christ, group vice president and general manager at TMNA, in an interview to Reuters.

"The customer has been able to absorb the increase in transaction prices in the industry along with the rate increase," he added.

Earlier in the week, FCA US, a unit of Stellantis , and Korean peer Hyundai Motor's U.S. unit reported a 6% and 14% increase, respectively, in total auto sales.

EVs continue to see higher demand on incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act and a price war sparked by market leader Tesla Inc, which delivered a record number of vehicles in the quarter.

(Reporting by Pratyush Thakur, Shivansh Tiwary and Nathan Gomes in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai and Shilpi Majumdar)


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