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Chrysler, Nissan lead strong sales month for automakers

In this Friday, March 14, 2014, photo, assembly

In this Friday, March 14, 2014, photo, assembly line workers build a 2015 Chrysler 200 automobile at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. Credit: AP

General Motors Co. surprised analysts with a U.S. sales gain in June after analysts projected a decline. Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC and Nissan Motor Co. all beat estimates in what’s shaping up to be a big month for the industry.

Chrysler’s sales rose 9.2 percent in June, the company’s 51st consecutive monthly increase, while GM reported gains of 1 percent, beating the average analyst estimate for a 6.3 percent decline last month. Ford’s light-vehicle sales decreased 5.8 percent, beating analysts’ estimates that projected a 6.6 percent decline.

Aided by available credit and an improving economy with housing starts that remained near the 1 million mark in May, U.S. auto sales are headed for the biggest year since 16.15 million vehicles were sold in 2007.

Adjusting for seasonal trends, U.S. auto sales may have accelerated to an annualized pace of 16.3 million in June, the average of 14 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg, from 15.9 million a year earlier. GM forecast a light-vehicle selling rate of 16.6 million. Chrysler projected a pace of 17 million, including medium-duty and heavy trucks, which typically account for at least 200,000 sales a year.

“In spite of two fewer selling days in June versus a year ago, we were able to increase our sales 9 percent and post our strongest June sales in seven years,” Reid Bigland, Chrysler’s U.S. sales chief, said in the statement.

U.S. Details
GM sold 267,461 vehicles last month, helped by redesigned large sport utility vehicle sales such as the Chevrolet Tahoe, and Chrysler delivered 171,086 cars and light trucks, aided by a Jeep brand sales gain of 28 percent, according to statements from the companies.

Chrysler, the third-largest U.S. automaker topped the average of eight analysts’ estimates, who projected a gain of 5.9 percent, helped by a 24 percent increase in sales of the Town & Country and a 22 percent gain by the Grand Caravan, both minivans. Ram pickup sales rose 12 percent to 33,149, the Fiat SpA-owned company said.

GM faced a difficult June with the release of an internal investigation that found a lack of urgency in the engineering and legal departments led to GM taking more than a decade to recall flawed Cobalts and other small cars linked to at least 13 deaths. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra returned to Congress for additional testimony on the matter and the company continued its stepped-up pace of recalls with the total reaching almost 29 million vehicles.

Nissan’s Beat
Nissan sales rose 5.3 percent, topping estimates for a gain of 3 percent.  While Altima sales slipped 2.9 percent to 26,111, Sentra sales jumped 68 percent to 17,097 and Versa deliveries rose 33 percent to 11,613.

Ford’s light-vehicles sales declined to 221,396 as F-Series pickup and Taurus sedan deliveries fell 11 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

Chrysler’s namesake brand fell 12 percent to 24,026 deliveries. The new 200 family sedan sold more than 5,000 as inventories grew in dealerships, up from 595 in May. The cars are lasting 12 days, on average, on dealer lots, the company said. Including the previous version of the sedan, Chrysler sold 7,345, compared with 12,360 a year earlier.

Toyota Motor Corp. may see a sales increase of 3.5 percent, the average of eight analysts, while Honda Motor Co. may report a drop of 5.8 percent.

Combined Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. sales are projected to slide by 2.4 percent.

Total light-vehicle sales may slip 2.6 percent to 1.37 million for the month with one fewer weekend than a year earlier, according to the average of 10 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

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