General Motors Co. (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F) and other major automakers reported rising vehicles sales in the U.S. in December, capping the best year since 2006 thanks to cheap fuel and low interest rates.
While all of the biggest automakers reported gains in the month, only GM and Nissan Motor Co. did better than analysts had predicted. The market’s shift to light trucks, which outsold cars in every month of the year for the first time since 2004, played to the strengths of GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCAU), such as their sport-utility vehicles and large pickups. Shoppers last year were undeterred by record recalls, mostly of older models.
“It’s a very good sales month,” said Maryann Keller, an independent automotive consultant in Stamford, Connecticut. “The biggest challenge for this year will be sustaining the sales pace. We will see more incentives this year and they will be much more visible to consumers.”
Automakers and analysts project that sales will rise again in 2015 for an unprecedented sixth straight year as the strengthening job market, available credit and the lowest gasoline prices in more than half a decade bolstered consumer confidence. Light-vehicle sales may total 16.7 million, Toyota Motor Corp. said on a conference call, adding that there’s “room for upside” to that forecast.
FCA US sold 193,261 cars and trucks last month, up 20 percent for December and giving full-year sales a 16 percent boost on its way to gaining the most market share. Analysts had estimated a jump of 23 percent last month.
Chrysler brand sales rose 53 percent, led by the new 200 family sedan, which nearly tripled deliveries, to 16,229. It was the brand’s best December in seven years.
Jeep sales jumped 19 percent to 63,274, powered by the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and the Wrangler. Ram pickups soared 32 percent to 44,222. For the year, Ram pickup sales jumped 24 percent to 439,789.
Nissan and Infiniti brands combined to sell 117,318 models last month for a 6.9 percent gain that topped the average estimate for a 6 percent rise. Full-year sales rose 11 percent to 1.39 million, led by a 12 percent increase in deliveries for the namesake brand.
“Nissan had its all-time best year on the strength of our core vehicles — Altima, Sentra, Versa and Rogue, as well as Nissan Leaf, which had the best-ever year for any plug-in vehicle in the industry,” said Fred Diaz, Nissan’s senior vice president for U.S. sales, marketing and operations. “We expect low gas prices and high consumer confidence to be the magic formula that continues to bring more buyers into dealer showrooms.”
sales rose 1.5 percent, less than the 6.3 percent increase predicted by analysts.
Honda finished the year with 1.54 million vehicle sales, a 1 percent increase. Sales by the company’s namesake brand rose 1 percent with an 11 percent increase in compact Fit sales and 10 percent growth in sales of CR-V compact sport-utility vehicles. Deliveries by the premium Acura climbed 1.5 percent as the TLX sedan replaced the mid-size TL and MDX SUV sales rose 24 percent.
Bloomberg – Fiat Chrysler, Nissan, Honda U.S. Sales Rise to End Strong Year http://bloom.bg/1zNWFCM