Chrysler Sales Gain 12% as Marchionne Applauds U.S.’s Strength

Chrysler Group LLC reported a 12 percent increase in U.S. sales in September, bolstering Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne’s view that the country’s economic recovery remains “quite strong.”

Chrysler sales last month rose to 142,041 cars and light trucks from 127,336 a year earlier, the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company said today in a statement. The automaker beat the 6.3 percent gain that was the average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Deliveries of the Dodge Dart compact, introduced in June, climbed 72 percent from August to 5,235.

U.S. light-vehicle sales probably rose 9.5 percent in September to 1.15 million, the average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Marchionne, who also is CEO of Chrysler’s majority owner Fiat SpA, said last month that U.S. consumer confidence was robust amid election-year “bantering.”

“In the midst of all this political kerfuffle, the underlying economics of the U.S. are quite strong,” Marchionne told reporters Sept. 14 in Detroit. “The U.S. is well poised to take a big piece of the action in terms of economic recovery on a global scale.”

Chrysler forecast a seasonally adjusted industry sales rate of 14.9 million including medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which usually account for at least 200,000 deliveries on an annualized basis. That would exceed the 14.5 million light-vehicle sales pace that was the average estimate of 16 analysts. The September 2012 rate was 13.1 million.

The industry selling rate was 14.5 million in August, the best since August 2009, when the U.S. government offered incentives for buyers to exchange older vehicles for new models.

Toyota’s View

Marchionne’s views contrast with those of Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. sales chief, who said in August that auto demand would slow until consumers had “sense of stability in the future” after the November presidential election.

Toyota probably will lead the industry in boosting sales by 36 percent in September, the average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The Toyota City, Japan-based automaker offered buyers zero-percent financing in September on seven models including the Corolla compact car and RAV4 sport-utility vehicle.

Banks, bolstered by loose monetary policy, are charging U.S. consumers the lowest interest rates on new-car loans since the Federal Reserve began surveying them in 1971. In addition to Toyota, Chrysler, General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. also are offering zero-percent financing on some models, according to researcher Edmunds.com.

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