CHICAGO Light vehicle
sales in the United States by the top seven automakers improved
15.6 percent in January from the same month last year, and were
up 54.8 percent from January 2010, according to an AMM
analysis. Last months sales were down 21.6 percent from
nearly 1.14 million vehicles in December, but the end-of-year
holidays are considered a prime auto purchasing period.
"The sales pace we saw in the
fourth quarter of last year rolled into January, exceeding our
expectations for the industry," Bill Fay, general manager at
Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., said during the automakers
monthly sales call. "Thats especially good news because
we think everyone was a little apprehensive about the start of
the year, given the fiscal-cliff debates, (income) tax rates
and because January is normally a slower month."
General Motors Co. each said last month was the best industry
start since 2008.
"We expect continued stability
in the economy to bode well for the industry in the months
ahead, with pent-up demand, an influx of new models and great
value combining to bring people into dealerships," Fay
"It was a very solid month for
GM," Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations, said
during a conference call. "Last month we said the runway was
clear for full-year light vehicle sales of 15 million to 15.5
million units, and January results certainly bear that out,
that we are on track. We continue to recover strongly from the
recession despite the headwinds of higher taxes and lower
McNeil said GMs outlook
factored in pent-up demand, a new product lineup and auto show
buzz. "We saw a 37-percent increase in sales to small
businesses (in January), which buy up to four vehicles at a
time, and they overwhelmingly purchased pickups," said McNeil,
keeping GM where it wants to be in terms of pickup truck
production, sales and inventory strategy.
Ford Motor Co. "is off to a
strong start this year, with Fusion and Escape delivering
January sales records and F-Series (pickups) seeing a
particularly strong reception this early in the year," Ken
Czubay, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service,
said during Fords monthly sales call.
The Detroit-area Big
ThreeGM, Ford and Chrysler Group LLCaccounted for
53.7 percent of Januarys sales by the top seven
automakers, up from 52.6 percent a year earlier.