Chrysler joins Ford beating U.S. sales estimates as Dart gains

Dodge Dart Dodge Dart

Chrysler Group LLC and Ford Motor Co. said U.S. sales rose more than analysts’ estimates in August as the automakers prepare new car models such as the Dodge Dart and Ford Fusion to build on gains earlier this year.

Chrysler deliveries last month increased 14 percent, the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company said today in a statement. The automaker exceeded the 9.9 percent gain that was the average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Ford sales rose 13 percent, topping the 8.5 percent increase that was the average of 10 estimates.

U.S. light-vehicle sales probably rose 18 percent this month to 1.27 million, the average estimate of nine analysts surveyed. Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne is counting on a steady climb in demand for Dart, introduced in June, as Chrysler continues to update its lineup.

“We expect Chrysler to continue to gobble up incremental share in the compact-car segment,” Alec Gutierrez, an analyst at Irvine, California-based auto-market researcher Kelley Blue Book, said before the results were released. “Chrysler is still trying to get enough selection of variety out to their dealers to satisfy demand. Their product portfolio has improved.”

Chrysler, the automaker controlled by Fiat SpA, said deliveries of the Dart almost quadrupled from a month earlier to 3,045, helping extend its streak of U.S. sales gains to 29 months. Ford, introducing a new Fusion sedan in the second half of this year, said the model set a sales record for the month of August at 21,690.

Sales Rate

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of light-vehicle sales may accelerate to 14.2 million, the average estimate of 15 analysts, from 14.1 million in July and 12.5 million a year earlier. The average estimate of 35 economists in a separate Bloomberg News survey was for a 14.2 million pace. Economist estimates ranged from 13.9 million to 14.7 million.

Chrysler forecast an industry sales rate of 14.6 million in its statement. That estimate includes medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that usually account for at least 200,000 deliveries on an annualized basis.

Chrysler last month idled a Toledo, Ohio, assembly plant to prepare for making a replacement to its Jeep Liberty sport- utility vehicle next year. The company’s Toledo North factory halted production Aug. 16 and begins shipping the new model in 2013’s second quarter.

Honda Motor Co., using incentives to dealers to help clear 2012 Accord sedans from their lots, may lead automakers in the U.S. with a 59 percent increase in deliveries for August, the average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

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