severe weather that has hammered much of the United States this
winter chilled auto sales in January.
The top seven
automakers sold 862,795 light vehicles in January, a
3.2-percent drop from the same month last year, with
Detroit-based General Motors Co. (GM) taking the biggest hit
and Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler Group LLC and
Japans Nissan Motor Corp. bucking the trend.
"The bad weather only
seemed to affect our competitors stores, as we had a
great January," Reid Bigland, head of Chryslers U.S.
sales, said in a statement.
January sales fell
24.4 percent compared with December, but December sales figures
often get a boost from year-end sales incentives offered by
temperatures and heavy snowfall had an impact on January sales
in some parts of the country. Our sales were actually up in all
western and southern areas, (but) couldnt offset the
losses in the Midwest and East Coast, areas hit hardest by the
storms," Bill Fay, division group vice president and general
manager of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., Torrance, Calif., said
during a Feb. 3 conference call.
Toyota estimated that
Januarys seasonally adjusted annual sales rate
industrywide was about 15.2 million vehicles, down from 15.4
million in the same month last year.
"We expect the
industry to bounce back in February," Fay said. "Most recent
economic indicators are good: Consumer spending is up and
consumer confidence remains strong. As a result, we expect to
see a more normal sales pattern of modest growth in
Februaryas long as the weather cooperates."
Emily Kolinski Morris,
senior economist at Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co., also
forecast a better 2014. Citing the Institute for Supply
Managements purchasing managers index decline for January
amm.com, Feb. 3), she noted during a conference
call that a number of comments from purchasing managers
reflected "optimism about improving sales and business activity
in the early part of 2014."
to decline, she said, although wages were not growing.
Nonetheless, Ford projects U.S. sales this year will total
between 16 million and 17 million vehicles.
Kurt McNeil, GMs
U.S. vice president of sales, said GM expects light vehicle
sales for the year to total 16 million to 16.5 million
vehicles, which would be the industrys best year since
2007, when 16.2 million vehicles were sold.