Ford leads U.S. carmakers beating estimates as leases expire

Production Rising

Chrysler Group plans to boost production to 2.6 million vehicles in 2013, from 2.4 million last year and 2 million in 2011, said Scott Garberding, senior vice president of manufacturing for Chrysler Group.

“We’re adding some capacity, but we’re more heavily utilizing everywhere the capacity that we have,” Garberding said today in an interview with Tom Keene and Sara Eisen on Bloomberg Television. “Many of our factories in the U.S. today are in fact going at full speed. Our Jeep plants are saturated” aside from a Toledo factory that is revamping for a new product.

Chrysler’s sales gain in January extended its stretch of year-over-year increases to 34 months, one short of the 35-month streak that the company had in the period ending December 1994. The company sold 7,154 Darts, up from 6,105 in December. Deliveries of the Dodge Journey sport-utility vehicle almost doubled from a year earlier to 8,179, and the Avenger sedan surged 69% to 9,628.

Lease Returns

In 2009, with the economy in trouble, leases -- which usually last for three years -- dropped dramatically. Americans entered into about half as many new-vehicle leases in 2009 compared with two years earlier. Leasing bounced back strongly the next year, and those leases are about to expire.

GM, Ford and Toyota will lead a U.S. auto market that probably will climb to 15.1 million vehicle sales this year, the average of 18 estimates, from 14.5 million in 2012.

GM shares gained 43% for the six months ended yesterday, as vehicle demand has returned, far outpacing the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index’s 8.6% increase. Over the same period, Ford rose 40% and Toyota added 45%.

U.S. light-vehicle sales may begin the year with a 14% increase in January to 1.04 million, the average of nine analysts’ estimates. The annualized industry sales rate, which is adjusted for seasonal trends, may have been 15.2 million, the average of 17 analysts’ estimates.

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