General Motors Co. said its U.S. sales climbed 7.5% in December thanks to continued strong demand for crossovers and pickups, as the auto maker also reported higher car sales to retail customers.

Sales for the month were hurt, however, by an anticipated decline in fleet sales to rental companies.

Nearly all major car makers are expected to report higher December sales from a year ago. Car-shopping website last month said it expected the U.S. annualized sales rate would reach its highest level of the year in December. Broadly, the auto industry has benefited from improved sales of trucks and other large vehicles for the past several months.

The growth in U.S. new-vehicle sales comes after the industry saw sales fall dramatically during the financial crisis. The annual sales pace is still one-third less than what was considered normal prior to the last few years.

On Tuesday, GM reported it sold 224,185 vehicles in December, up from 208,511 a year ago and rising 33% from November. Among the four continuing GM brands, Buick and GMC reported sales jumped 40% and 35%, respectively. Sales of the larger Chevrolet grew 9.1% and rose 13% at Cadillac.

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