Major automakers on Friday reported double digit growths in U.S. vehicles sales for the month of January amid strong demand for new fuel efficient vehicles, an improving housing market and growing manufacturing activities. Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. (TM: Quote) led the list with a 27% year-over-year increase in January U.S. vehicles sales followed by Ford Motor Co. (F: Quote) with a 22% growth, while General Motors Co. (GM: Quote) and Chrysler Group LLC each reported 16% gains.
GM, the largest U.S. automaker, said that its January U.S. sales rose 16% to 194,699 vehicles from 167,962 vehicles in the same month last year.
There were 25 selling days for January 2013, compared to 24 for last year.
"The year is off to a very good start for General Motors," said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations. "There's a sense of optimism among our dealers that only comes when you pair a growing economy with great new products."
Year-over-year sales to retail customers rose 24%, while sales to fleet customers fell 2% during the month.
For January, GM's passenger car sales increased 12%, while truck sales grew 13% and crossovers sales surged 27% from a year earlier.
Among GM's brands, Chevrolet sales increased 10.9% to 137,304 units, while GMC sales rose 23.4% to 30,816 units, Cardillac sales surged 31.9% to 13,463 and Buick sales jumped 47% to 13,116 units. Cadillac had its highest January retail sales in 23 years, the automaker said.
Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford, the second largest U.S. automaker, said it sold 166,501 vehicles in the U.S. in January, up 22% from 136,710 vehicles sold in the same month last year. For December, Ford had reported a 2% rise in U.S. vehicles sales.
Ford's retail sales for January were up 24% from the year-ago level.
Ford's car sales surged 34.1% year-over-year to 56,178 units in January, while truck sales for the month increased 10.8% to 56,627 units and utility vehicle sales rose 23.3% to 51,696 units.
"Ford is off to a strong start this year, with Fusion and Escape delivering January sales records and F-Series seeing a particularly strong reception this early in the year," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. "Our investment in fuel-efficient new vehicles - including EcoBoost engines and hybrid technology - continues to pay off."
Sales of all-new Ford Fusion jumped 65% to 22,399 units in January, the vehicle's best January sales ever.
Among utilities, Explorer sales surged 46% to 14,5554 vehicles, while Escape sales rose 15.5% to 19,939 vehicles.
Sales of Ford's F-Series truck, America's best-selling truck for 36 years in a row and America's best-selling vehicle, car or truck, for 31 straight years, rose 21.7% to 46,841 units in January, its 18th straight month of sales increases.
Ford was less ravaged by the recession than most of its peers. The company also did not have to restructure with federal assistance. The automaker has reported a profit for each of its last fourteen quarters. The company has also reinstated its quarterly stock dividend. However, the automaker's profit has declined in the last three quarters due to weakness in Europe.
Chrysler Group LLC , majority-owned by Italian carmaker Fiat SpA (FIATY.PK) , reported that its U.S. vehicle sales for the month of January increased 16% to 117,731 units from 101,149 units in the prior year month.
This marks the 34nd-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains for Chrysler, and its best January sales since 2008.
Chrysler's car sales for the month surged 50% to 43,377 units, while truck sales grew 3% to 74,354 units. The Dodge brand of vehicles led the sales increase with a 37% growth, followed by Fiat brand with a 31% growth, Chrysler brand with an 18% increase, and Ram Truck brand with a 14% rise, while Jeep brand sales was down 4%.
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., a division of Toyota Motor Corp. (TM), reported January sales of 157,725 units, up 27% from a year earlier.
Among other automakers reporting January U.S. sales Friday, Hyundai Motor America, a subsidiary of South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. (HYUD.L, HYMLF.PK, HYMTF.PK), said that its total vehicles sales for the month of January increased 2.4% to 43,713 units, from 42,694 units in the same month last year.
GM shares are currently trading at $28.43, up 34 cents or 1.23%, while Ford shares are currently trading at $13.05, up 10 cents.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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