May U.S. light-vehicle sales rebounded from April’s temporary dip on a seasonally adjusted basis to record their 33rd straight year-over-year increase in the daily selling rate.

Auto makers with a high mix of new models benefitted most from the month’s accelerated pace.

A bounce-back in fleet volume from April helped, but sales were driven more by large trucks and cross/utility vehicles. Those segments pushed light-truck penetration for the month to 50.8%, the first time since 2007 that more than half of May’s deliveries were trucks.

However, demand in the lower-small and lower-luxury car segments also aided May’s growth.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.2 million units marked a sharp uptick from April’s 14.9 million, the first time since October the SAAR dipped below 15 million. May’s SAAR also was well above year-ago’s 13.9 million and brought the year-to-date total to 15.2 million, up from like-2012’s 14.1 million.

Volume for the month reached 1.44 million LVs, equal to a daily selling rate of 55,260, 8.0% above year-ago’s 51,158 – 26 selling days both periods. Year-to-date deliveries are 7.1% above like-2012.

Sales of all large trucks, including luxury versions, increased 20.3% in May. Large SUVS and pickups led the way with gains of 23.9% and 23.6%, respectively.

Large pickups, which are a primary reason industry average transaction prices are rising, accounted for 11.8% of the market, up from 10.3% in like-2012. Year-to-date penetration for large pickups through May was 11.7% vs. year-ago’s 10.4%, and if normal seasonal trends hold true, share should continue to rise through the rest of the year,

The large-truck trend favored Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. However, even without large trucks, Ford and Chrysler still posted big increases over last year.

For market leader GM, large trucks, specifically pickups and SUVs, kept its sales from declining from year-ago. GM’s delliveries were up 3.1%, but its share slid to 17.6% from 18.4% and the prior month’s 18.6%. Minus large trucks, GM’s sales were down 4.0%.

Among the largest players in the market, Nissan posted the biggest year-over-year increase of 24.7%, thanks to new product. Sales of the revamped Pathfinder were four times year-ago’s total, while volume for the new Sentra rose 64.5% and demand for the redesigned Altima midsize car increased 40.8%. The auto maker also recorded big gains for the Xterra SUV, Rogue CUV and Leaf electric vehicle.

One disappointment in Nissan’s May results was the Titan, off 35.3%. Except for the discontinued Chevrolet Avalanche, it was the only large pickup to post a drop for the month. Sales are off year-to-date as well.

Of the other top volume auto makers, Honda recorded a 4.5% improvement and Toyota’s sales rose a tepid 2.5% in May. Market share for both declined from year-ago.

Big gainers outside the majors included Porsche, up 37.7%, Subaru (34.2%), Mazda (19.2%), Jaguar Land Rover (10.5%), BMW (10.1%) and Daimler (8.3%).

In sync with the industry, Mazda benefitted from sales of its CX-9 large CUV, redesigned Mazda6 midsize car and CX-5 midsize CUV.

BMW’s deliveries increase mostly was the result of a 47.2% jump in 3-Series sales. The 3-Series, in conjunction with big improvements for the redesigned Lexus ES, Lincoln MKZ, Toyota Avalon and all-new Cadillac ATS, boosted sales of the lower luxury segment 13.3%.

Lower-small cars, propped up by the Chevrolet Sonic, Kia Rio and Soul, posted an 11.6% increase for the month. Small CUVs, including luxury versions, combined for a 44.1% gain.

Sales of all CUVs increased 13.3% in May, with share rising to 24.8% from year-ago’s 23.7%.

hstoddard@wardsauto.com