US car sales for December miss expectations

Last year best for the industry since before the recession

Ford’s sales rose 2 per cent, to 218,058, also below analysts’ expectations. Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg

Ford’s sales rose 2 per cent, to 218,058, also below analysts’ expectations. Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg

Sat, Jan 4, 2014, 01:00

The top four car firms 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 the US auto industry will have December US car sales at a 15.6 million-vehicle annualised selling rate, well below the 16 million vehicles expected. The late December holiday season is generally one of the heaviest sales periods at US auto 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.

December sales were also hampered by 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 auto sales are expected to finish near 15.6 million vehicles, up about 8 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.

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.

Chrysler expects the industry to show a December annualised selling rate of 15.8 million vehicles.

Toyota’s US December sales fell 1.7 per cent to 190,843 vehicles, versus expectations of a slight gain.

Chrysler reported a 6 per cent gain last month in its US sales, to 161,007 vehicles. That was the firm’s best December since 2007, but still narrowly missed analyst expectations.

The top four automakers by sales are, in order, GM, Ford, Toyota and Chrysler.– (Reuters)