After the fireworks of early July 4 promotions, U.S. light-vehicle sales heated up in late June. Now, according to Automotive News, automakers are preparing for a second half as strong as the first six months of a surprisingly robust 2012.

A big final week of sales and model-closeout specials pushed June volume up 22% to 1.3 million units. The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate rebounded to 14.1 million, beating analysts’ expectations and May’s disappointing 13.8 million.

“We expect the industry to maintain that pace through the end of the year,” declared Bob Carter, boss of the Toyota brand, whose sales were among the biggest contributors to the strong month. “As a result, we are adjusting our 2012 projection to 14.3 million, quite a jump from our 13.5 million forecast of just six months ago.”

The Detroit 3 and top international automakers such as Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Volkswagen are adding shifts and hiking production to meet demand. Consumers keep replacing vehicles from the oldest U.S. fleet on record. Credit is readily available, and interest rates are low.

To read the entire article in Automotive News click here.