Ford to Chrysler U.S. sales climb as growth drivers seen intact

Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, leading a continued recovery for the U.S. auto market, said their deliveries climbed in June as the industry selling pace may accelerate to the fastest pace in 66 months.

Ford sales of cars and light trucks climbed 13% to 234,917, beating the 12% increase that was the average of 11 estimates. Deliveries for Chrysler, majority owned by Fiat SpA, increased 8.2% to 156,686 vehicles. General Motors Co. sales rose 6.5% to 264,843.

Americans are buying new cars and trucks at the fastest rate since 2007 as they replace the oldest vehicles ever on U.S. roads. Automakers including Chrysler and analysts said they expect pent-up demand, attractive financing offers and an improving economy will keep propelling industry sales as the Federal Reserve winds down its unprecedented easing programs.

“The same factors are still in place: Pent-up demand is unleashing, credit is cheap and widely available, and in terms of trucks, it’s all about the economy recovering and housing starts,” Michelle Krebs, an analyst at auto researcher Edmunds.com, said in a telephone interview.

Ford sales of F-Series pickups surged 24% to 68,009, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company said in a statement. GM’s Chevrolet Silverado deliveries climbed 29% to 43,259. Chrysler’s Ram pickup sales increased 24% to 29,644.

Sales for Chrysler, the third-largest U.S. automaker, have gained for 39 consecutive months. The Auburn Hills, Michigan- based automaker’s increase in June matched the average of 10 analysts’ estimates in a survey by Bloomberg News. GM’s sales exceeded the 2.1% average estimate of 11 analysts.

Fundamentals Intact

“The fundamentals for continued growth in the new vehicle sales industry are intact,” Reid Bigland, Chrysler’s U.S. sales chief, told reporters June 28 in Chelsea, Michigan. “The availability of credit for automotive loans is as good as it’s ever been. Pent-up demand is still a big factor out there. Even this telegraphing a little bit of tapering is a sign that the economy is getting better.”

Chrysler forecast an annualized industry sales rate, adjusted for seasonal trends, of 16 million for June. That projection includes medium-and heavy-duty vehicles, which typically account for at least 200,000 deliveries per year. GM predicted a 15.8 million light vehicle sales rate in an e-mailed statement from the Detroit-based company.

U.S. light-vehicle sales may have climbed 7.1% to 1.38 million, the average of 10 estimates in the Bloomberg survey. The industry sales rate may have risen to 15.6 million, the average of 17 estimates, from 14.4 million a year earlier. That would be the best monthly pace since 15.8 million in December 2007, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

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