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.
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.
Honda, General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. are all using the so-called stair-step programs to give rewards to dealers whose sales reach thresholds set by the companies. Programs such as Honda’s, which started in March to boost Accord deliveries, offer incentives for dealers of as much as $1,000 per sale and extend bonuses retroactively for cars sold in previous months, too.
Honda’s six-month Accord program helped the Tokyo-based automaker with at least two objectives: winding down inventory of the 2012 model to clear way for the redesigned 2013 Accord, and kick-starting a recovery in the U.S. from inventory shortages and corresponding market-share losses caused by Japan’s March 2011 tsunami.
Toyota, which also has turned to stair-step programs to help rebound from sales lost to last year’s disaster in Japan, may report a 40 percent gain, the average of seven estimates.
U.S. market share for Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota rose 1.6 percentage points through July to 14.4 percent and 0.4 percentage points for Honda to 9.7 percent, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
GM’s deliveries probably will rise 3 percent, according to 10 analysts’ average estimate. The Detroit-based automaker ran an eight-week promotion that expires today for its Chevrolet brand that offered no-haggle pricing on 2012 car and truck models plus a money-back guarantee.
“It will be a good month,” Sue Yingzi Su, GM’s senior economist, told reporters today on a conference call. She reiterated that GM expects full-year 2012 U.S. light-vehicle sales will be in the 14 million to 14.5 million range. The forecast could be narrowed, to perhaps “slightly” above 14 million, she said.
Four Chevrolet car models set sales records last month and the brand’s passenger-car deliveries rose 25 percent, GM said today in an e-mail. Full results will be released at 10 a.m. New York time, the automaker said.
Automakers including Ford and Nissan Motor Co. may have attracted buyers in August who sought to replace their older vehicles with models that get better fuel economy as gasoline prices rose, Kelley Blue Book’s Gutierrez said.
Nissan, beginning to sell a new Altima sedan that gets 38 miles per gallon in highway driving, probably will sell 12 percent more vehicles than a year earlier, the average of seven analysts’ estimates.
The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline climbed 8.7 percent in August, the biggest monthly increase since April 2011, to $3.83 a gallon, according to AAA, the biggest U.S. motoring organization.
Industrywide deliveries this year through July climbed 14 percent to 8.43 million, according to Autodata, based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. Sales are on pace to exceed 14 million for the industry’s best total since 2007 and gain by at least 10 percent for the third-straight year. That’s the first such streak since 1973.
South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. may combine to sell 19 percent more vehicles in August than a year earlier, the average of five analysts’ estimates. Hyundai deliveries rose 4.4 percent in August to 61,099, the company said in an Aug. 31 posting on Twitter.
Volkswagen AG, targeting more than 500,000 vehicle sales in the U.S. this year, may have increased combined deliveries of its Volkswagen and Audi brands by 46 percent in August, the average of four analysts’ estimates. The Volkswagen brand sold 41,011 vehicles last month, a 63 percent increase from a year earlier, according to an e-mailed statement.