General Motors ( GM), the world's largest car and truck maker, sped past the competition in July, reporting brisk vehicle sales and maintaining its market share lead over its rivals.

GM sold 465,843 new cars and trucks in July, a 24% increase over last year. Truck sales rose 36% to 268,620 units, and the company sold 197,223 cars, up 11% from a year ago.

The company also raised its third-quarter North American production forecast to 1.262 million vehicles, up 17,000 from last month's forecast of 1.245 million units. In the third quarter of 2001, GM North America produced 1.238 million cars and trucks.

Another member of Detroit's Big Three, Ford ( F), said car and truck sales rose 1.5% to 319,975 from 303,043 in the same month a year ago, giving the company its first sales increase this year.

Ford sold 122,701 cars last month, up 0.2% from 117,696 in July 2001. Truck sales rose 2.3% to 197,274 from 185,347. Sales to retail customers rose 4% in July, but sales to fleet customers fell 9%.

Meanwhile, Chrysler, the U.S. division of DaimlerChrysler ( DCX), sold a total of 185,602 cars and trucks last month, down 4% from the same period a year ago. Car sales rose 17% to 42,008 from 34,354, but truck sales dropped 9% to 143,594 units from 151,244.

Industrywide, 1.52 million light vehicles were sold in July, up 8.2% from the same month last year. GM held on to its market share lead, which was at 30.2% last month.

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