US auto giants back in top gear
Detroit (US), January 4, 2014
The top four carmakers in the US market missed December sales expectations, but 2013 will still easily be the best year for the industry since before the recession.
General Motors said that the US car industry will have December US sales at a 15.6 million-vehicle annualised selling rate, well below the 16 million vehicles expected by 27 economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
The late December holiday season is generally one of the heaviest sales periods at US car dealerships.
Sales that may have occurred in December were pulled ahead to November because of a late-month, four-day Thanksgiving weekend, said John Felice, head of sales at Ford Motor.
December car sales were also hampered by snowy and icy weather over parts of the country late in the month, said Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel.
Each month, car sales are seen as an early indicator of consumer spending.
For all of 2013, US car sales are expected to finish near 15.6 million vehicles, up about eight per cent.
That would be the best sales year since pre-recession 2007, when 16.1 million vehicles were sold in the US market. At the height of the recession in 2009 sales fell to 10.4 million.
GM's sales fell 6 per cent, to 230,157 new vehicles, below analysts' expectations of a slight sales gain.
Sales of GM's Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck fell 16 per cent in the month.
Ford's sales rose 2 per cent, to 218,058, also below analysts' expectations. Its F-Series pickup truck, the best-selling model in North America, had an 8 per cent sales gain in December.
Toyota's US December sales fell 1.7 per cent to 190,843 vehicles, versus expectations of a slight gain.
Chrysler expects the industry to show a December annualised selling rate of 15.8 million vehicles.
Chrysler yesterday reported a 6 per cent gain last month in its US car sales, to 161,007 vehicles. That was the carmaker's best December since 2007, but still narrowly missed analyst expectations. Ram pickup truck sales rose 17 per cent.
Jeep sales rose 34 per cent in the month, led by the new Cherokee, which sold four times as well in December as the vehicle it replaced, the Jeep Liberty, did a year ago.
The top four carmakers by sales are, in order, GM, Ford, Toyota Motor Corp and Chrysler.
GM's sales for the year rose 7 per cent to 2.8 million vehicles, and Ford's US annual sales of 2.5m vehicles rose 11 per cent. For the year, Chrysler's US sales rose 9 per cent to 1.8 million vehicles. Toyota's annual US sales rose 7 per cent to 2.2 million vehicles.
While some economists and analysts expect 2014 sales to rise to between 16 million and 16.5m vehicles, there is growing concern that competition will intensify, leading to higher incentives and lower profit for companies.-Reuters