US Auto Sales Rise in January, Led by Chrysler, VW

US auto sales rise in January, led by Chrysler, VWDETROIT (AP) - U.S. auto sales are off to a strong start this year, continuing the brisk pace from late 2011.

Chrysler had its best January in four years while Ford (F) got a boost from small cars and SUVs. Volkswagen, which wants to aggressively expand in the U.S., reported much higher sales. One sour note was GM (GM), where sales fell.

Analysts are expecting industrywide sales to rise around 7 percent to more than 870,000 for January, kicking off what is expected to be the strongest year for the industry since the recession. Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends for TrueCar.com, said U.S. demand continues to grow at a steady pace as the economy improves.

"For the first time in several years, we are starting the year off with a warm and fuzzy feeling," Toprak said.

For all of 2012, auto sales could reach 14 million new vehicles, analysts say, up from 12.8 million in 2011. While that forecast is below the 2000 peak of 17.3 million, it's better than the 10.4 million trough in 2009.

One reason car sales are improving is that buyers need to replace aging vehicles. The average age of a vehicle in America has reached a record 10.8 years. Low interest rates and greater loan availability also spurred demand in January.

Unseasonably warm weather may also have drawn buyers to dealerships, although Ford's U.S. sales chief Ken Czubay said that the weather effect was probably a wash. Frigid weather can also boost sales because older cars may not start during a cold snap, he said.

Chrysler's January sales jumped 44 percent, led by surge in demand for the Chrysler brand. Buyers flocked to the revamped 200 and 300 sedans. Chrysler sold 7,007 of the 200 midsize sedan last month, more than eight times the number it sold in January of 2011. Sales of the Chrysler 300 large sedan almost quadrupled from a year earlier.

Ford's overall sales rose 7 percent. Demand for the Ford Focus compact car rose 60 percent, while sales of the Escape small SUV rose 24 percent. Ford is replacing the Escape with a new version later this year, and sales have been strong for months as dealers offer big discounts to clear out the old models.

General Motors reported a 6 percent decline for the month, saying demand for its trucks and crossovers fell. GM also offered fewer discounts than it did last January. TrueCar estimated that GM's incentives were down 16 percent to $3,095 per vehicle.

Sales weakened for crossover SUVs like the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia. Pickup sales fell 6 percent.

But GM's car sales rose 13 percent, led by the new subcompact Chevrolet Sonic and the Chevrolet Cruze. Sales of the Chevrolet Volt electric car nearly doubled to 603. GM announced early in January that it will retrofit existing Volts to make them less prone to fires after a severe crash.

Analysts expect that new car and truck sales hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13.5 million vehicles last month. That follows an annual rate of 13.56 million in December and 13.63 million in November.

The industry faces some challenges. Consumer confidence fell in January after two straight months of big gains as Americans worried about incomes, gas prices and business conditions. Unemployment is at its lowest level in nearly three years, but it's still 8.5 percent.

"Overall, the economy's not in a good place yet, but I think consumers are reacting to the conditions much more favorably than expected," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive, an industry consulting company in Troy, Michigan.

Other companies reporting sales Wednesday:

- Volkswagen of America reported a 48 percent rise in U.S. sales, led by the Jetta and Passat sedans.



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25 Comments

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Ed

It looks like Ford will reach $18/share by midyear

February 23 2012 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
adika3z

hello japan,
hi japaneses people,
dont buy american vehicles,
never,
because american vehicles are not safety, not have 2 amber yellow lights on the rear taillights,
weak body and 2 weak bumpers,
same as foreigns vehicles

February 03 2012 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gopispoison666

grumble slobber drool socialist slobber drools soerto goober slobber spit vomit socialist commie slobber rush says drool kenyan slobber muslim grumble froth high taxes bumble move to Cuba growl fart spit obummer slurp socialist failure slobber ronald reagan hero drool meds diaper liberals.

February 02 2012 at 3:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gopispoison666's comment
thanley7

Just noticed the "666" devil reference in your screen name. There you go, proved my point. Get a life Lucifer.

February 02 2012 at 3:56 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to thanley7's comment
gopispoison666

The 666 is in dishonor of everyone's favorite cyborg, dick cheney.

February 02 2012 at 4:45 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down
John' s place

these autos could also be redistirbuted vehicles that have been exposed to floods, These cars get counted into the formula. . Oh, it's real and it happens.
buyer beware.

February 02 2012 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thanley7

Hmmmm.....not one word mentioning the "Annointed one", Barack Hussein Obama and his Socialist polices. Of course, he will see himself as the reason for the increase in car sales. Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back Odumbo. "JANUARY 20, 2013.....THE END OF AN ERROR". If your only choice on November 6 is Odumbo or Bozo the Clown, vote for Bozo. He is less dangerous than Obamination to our great nation.

February 02 2012 at 1:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to thanley7's comment
gopispoison666

grumble slobber drool socialist slobber drools soerto goober slobber spit vomit socialist commie slobber rush says drool kenyan slobber muslim grumble froth high taxes bumble move to Cuba growl fart spit obummer slurp socialist failure slobber ronald reagan hero drool meds diaper liberals.

February 02 2012 at 3:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
cpo1514

GM sales down.... another failure???????

February 02 2012 at 3:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Bridges

Lets see, Life on earth is supposed to end on December 12th of this year, and people are buying new cars. Does this sound kinda bad to anyone else? I really wonder how many people have bought New Cars thinking that after all the incentives that car dealers are doing right now these people are thinkling that they won't have to pay much for the use of The New Vehicle. But what is going to happen when the end of the world doesn't happen alotr of these people are going to have thier cars repoed. and then all These Big Numbers wont look so good

February 02 2012 at 1:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
harryness

I congratulate Government Motors for an impressive 603 Chevy Volts sold. That is an amazing 20 a day. Wow, at that rate they may make a profit of this car by the year 2099. Maybe

You may be able to sell these if you come up with a battery that goes more than 40 miles. I heard a TV anchor say he was test driving one for two weeks. He charged it for 12 hours and was only able to drive 16 miles before it stopped and he had to switch over to gas right in the middle of the tunnel. That really sounds like something I would want to pay $40,000+ for.

February 02 2012 at 1:05 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to harryness's comment
cpo1514

But wait.... there's more.... how much is the '$7500 / per car dollar rebate costing the treasury?? can 'we' afford the cut in revenue?? are there enough 'rich ' folks to tax??? Why the hell isnt Obama & his Czars all driving one of these 20 miles per charge cars???

February 02 2012 at 4:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BudThePatriot

They improve every year around this time..it's when Government and corporations buy new vehicles in order to have tax write offs for the next year..so 100's of thousands of vehicles are sold at this time..then after 6 months it's over..cause we all know if people don't have jobs,or secure jobs ..banks are not loaning money for even a bycle..this is just a false hope scam from the Obama team

February 02 2012 at 12:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BudThePatriot's comment
gopispoison666

Government doesn't buy vehicles for tax write offs. Nice try though. Economy improving slowly despite GOP's vicious attacks on working people and the poor and vicious obstructionism in the Congress to destroy any attempts at fixing the mess the GOP made out our country. Real patriots do not support fascism.

February 02 2012 at 4:50 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Allen

One of the reasons is that southerners are willing to trade their Japanese-named cars more than the last few years.

February 02 2012 at 12:38 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
ecitjc

GM sales fell, what a suprise, the bankruptcy did not solve GM problem only put a band aid over it

February 02 2012 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ecitjc's comment
michelle RN

And Old GM still exists, and is still losing money. No one mentions that ever.

February 02 2012 at 12:46 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to michelle RN's comment
gopispoison666

GM posted seven consecutive quarters in the black.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/nov/09/gm-warns-on-rising-costs-european-turmoil

February 02 2012 at 3:50 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down
gopispoison666

But of course, in conservative bizzaro world, facts don't matter.

February 02 2012 at 3:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
mhcontain

No but it solved the UAW's pension problem.

February 02 2012 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mhcontain's comment
cpo1514

And then the Bamster has decreed that ALL RETIRED UAW folks will be getting their own insurance and a cash one-time payment is in the future as the pensions are ended. Thats right... here's yuor check... invest wisely UAW minion.... thats all Obama will be giving you. Wonder what the Korean UAW gets with the Obama free trade????

February 02 2012 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down