GM said Tuesday that improved consumer confidence levels last month helped buyers shrug off concerns about the automaker's impending Chapter 11 filing.
GM says it sold 191,875 cars and light trucks in May.
GM's Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn and Saab brands were the company's worst performers. GM has said it plans to get rid of those brands as part of its restructuring.
A Chinese company, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company Ltd., has to buy Hummer. GM said Tuesday that it had had a memorandum of understanding to sell the brand, but did not identify the buyer.
Saturn sales fell 56 percent, and Pontiac sales were down 52 percent in May.
GM is counting on a quick trip through bankruptcy court to reduce its debt load and help it become a smaller, more efficient company.
Earlier Tuesday, Ford Motor Co. said its U.S. sales fell 24 percent in May from a year ago, but rose 20 percent from April; Ford continues to gain market share from competitors GM and Chrysler LLC, both under bankruptcy protection.
GM filed for bankruptcy protection Monday. Chrysler, which filed in April, is preparing to exit bankruptcy protection under an operating agreement with Italian automaker Fiat SpA. Both automakers, and others, report their May U.S. sales results later Tuesday.
Dearborn-based Ford said it sold 161,197 cars and light trucks in the U.S. last month. Sales of the Ford Fusion rose 9.4 percent as the company began selling new 2010 models of the midsize sedan along with a hybrid version. Ford said it sold a record number Fusions - 19,786 in May - which was surpassed only by sales of its F-series pickup trucks.
Ford says its better cars are driving sales and its increasing market share, not GM and Chrysler's filings for bankruptcy protection. The company said it plans to increase production levels in the second quarter by 10,000 vehicles, to 445,000, in contrast to its U.S. competitors that are cutting production and idling plants this summer.
Ford also said it plans to build 460,000 vehicles in the third quarter, 42,000 more than in the third quarter of 2008.
Automakers are facing the worst U.S. sales climate in 27 years. The companies and analysts are expecting are a rebound as the consumer confidence improves, but there's concern that heavy incentives to are inflating sales.
Ford said it decreased incentive spending in May but is launching a new program, "Drive the Ford Difference," this month, in which the company will pay three months of car payments, up to $2,100. Zero-percent financing will also be available on some vehicles.
Shares of Ford rose 25 cents to $6.38 in late afternoon trading.