GM joins Chrysler topping estimates as carmakers boost U.S.

Rate Forecasts

GM and Chrysler predicted that the annualized industry sales rate, adjusted for seasonal trends, may have topped 15.4 million for December, the average of 15 analysts’ estimates in Bloomberg’s survey.

Chrysler projected a 15.8 million industry sales pace for December in its statement today, including medium- and heavy- duty vehicles, which typically account for at least 200,000 deliveries per year. GM estimated a light-vehicle rate of 15.6 million in its statement.

The analysts’ projected pace for December almost matches November’s 15.5 million sales rate, the best month for industrywide deliveries since January 2008.

The sales rate was 13.6 million the previous December, according to Autodata. The U.S. averaged 16.8 million light- vehicle deliveries annually from 2000 to 2007, then dropped to 10.4 million in 2009, a 27-year-low, Autodata figures show.

Volkswagen AG, led by a more than doubling of sales for its Passat sedan, boosted deliveries by its Volkswagen and Audi brands in December by 30 percent, according to company statements. The average of four analysts’ estimates was for an increase of 31 percent. The company exceeded its full-year target for U.S. sales of 500,000 vehicles in November and finished the year with 577,443.

Pickup Supply

GM, the top-selling automaker in the U.S., boosted incentives on its trucks last month after warning it may end the year with more Chevrolet Silverados and GM Sierras than it planned. At the end of December, GM had 221,649 full-size pickups on hand, almost reaching its year-end target of 200,000 to 220,000. Deliveries of the Chevrolet Silverado rose 6.1 percent to 50,699 in December.

Sales of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, marketed by GM as its top model for fuel-saving technology, surged 72 percent last month to 2,633.

Ford said sales of the Escape sport-utility vehicle, recalled four times since it was introduced in May, fell 21 percent to 20,131. Ford Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields said last month that the recalls, which have included defects that could cause engine fires, weren’t hurting sales of the Escape, the automaker’s top selling SUV.

Hyundai Motor Co. said in a statement that its sales rose 17 percent last month to 59,435. Combined with deliveries for affiliate Kia Motors Corp., South Korea’s two largest automakers increased sales 4.7 percent last month to 98,613. That was less than the 13 percent estimate for the Seoul-based companies that was the average of six estimates.

Annual combined sales for Hyundai and Kia rose 11 percent to a record 1.26 million cars and light trucks.

Bloomberg News

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