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Ford, Fiat Chrysler US Sales Jump In February, GM Lags

(AFP) Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2016 – 10:43 AM

Ford and Fiat Chrysler reported Tuesday strong double-digit jumps in US sales in February, while General Motors said overall sales slipped on planned lower deliveries to rental companies.

GM, the largest US automaker, reported total sales fell 1.5 percent from a year ago to 227,825 units. The company had reduced rental deliveries last year and said they were down 39 percent in February.

“Our strategy is simple: grow profitable retail share while maintaining discipline with inventory levels and incentive spending, while reducing rental deliveries,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s US vice president of sales operations, in a statement.

In the retail market, GM sales of cars and trucks rose 6.6 percent to 179,958 units. It said its Chevrolet brand remained the auto industry’s fastest-growing full-line brand in February, with sales up 13 percent.

Sales of luxury brand Cadillac rose 4.2 percent, but GMC sales dropped 8.3 percent and Buick fell 1.9 percent.

Ford and Fiat Chrysler reported the best sales in at least a decade, barreling past analyst estimates.  

Ford, the number-two US automaker, scored a 20 percent year-over-year increase in February, with 217,192 vehicles sold. That solidly beat the 210,322 number expected by Edmunds.com.

Ford said its Ford brand sport-utility vehicle sales last month set a company record, totaling 65,016 SUVs, up 28 percent from a year ago. The Ford Edge led the pack as sales soared 91 percent. Overall SUV sales advanced 29.2 percent to 54,420 units.

F-series pickup truck sales were robust, too, rising 10 percent, the best performance in a decade.

“We saw a solid industry last month and a strong month for Ford, as customer demand for our newest vehicles — including new high-end series on Explorer and Edge — helped Ford increase its average transaction prices at almost double the industry average,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of US marketing, sales and service.

Sales of SUVs and pickups have been leading the upsurge in the US auto market as cheap gasoline prices at the pump attract buyers to fuel-guzzling vehicles.

FCA US, the US arm of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, reported a 12 percent jump in US sales to 182,879 units. Analysts had forecast 177,724 vehicles sold.

FCA US said its Jeep brand sales advanced 23 percent in February, with Jeep Cherokee, Wrangler, Patriot and Compass models having their best February sales ever.

Five other brands set records in the month, including the Ram pickup truck and van, and the Dodge Journey crossover.

– Holiday sales promotions –

 

In February, automakers had numerous promotions and rebate offers, particularly around the Presidents Day holiday, which falls on the third Monday of the month.

Automakers handed out an average rebate of $175 per vehicle tied to the holiday, analysts said.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, said US sales rose 5.2 percent to 189,852 vehicles.

“Light trucks continue to drive strong demand in 2016,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager for the Japanese company’s US division. “The Toyota division had back-to-back, best-ever light truck monthly records, supported by another best-ever month in February for RAV4,” one of the company’s crossover SUVs, he said.

Honda scored a 12.8 percent rise year-on-year, at 188,985 Honda and Acura vehicles. Civic sales revved up 31.7 percent.

Nissan said total US sales climbed 11 percent over the prior year to 130,911 units, a February record. Sales of Nissan crossovers, trucks and SUVs also set a February record, up 14 percent.

Volkswagen, mired in an emissions cheating scandal that has spurred multiple probes and lawsuits in the United States, said US sales tumbled 13.2 percent to 22,321 units.

For the second month in a row, VW, which is struggling to regain customer confidence after its diesel-engined cars were found outfitted with pollution standards-cheating devices last year, blamed the weakness on seasonal fleet business.

The industry data for all US auto sales in February, to be published later in the day, is expected to show 1.35 million vehicles were sold, an increase of 7.9 percent from February 2015, according to Edmunds.com.

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