Chrysler leads pace among automakers

September produced a mixed bag of sales results for U.S. automakers, as Chrysler Group LLC posted some of its best sales increases in years, but sales for Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. were mostly flat.

Chrysler said today it sold 142,041 vehicles in September,  a jump of 12 percent over the same month a year ago, with the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck and Fiat all posting gains.
“Last month marked our 30th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases and our strongest September in five years,” said Reid Bigland, president and chief executive officer of Dodge and head of U.S. sales.
Citing a “stable” U.S. economy with interest rates at record lows, Bigland said the company remains “optimistic about the health of the U.S. new vehicle sales industry and our position in it.”
Chrysler is controlled by Italy’s Fiat SpA.
The pace of sales wasn’t as brisk for Ford, which saw its sales remain essentially unchanged at 174,976 vehicles, although retail sales rose 4 percent on the month.
One bright spot for Ford, however, was in small cars. Ford sold 24,628 small cars in September for its best month since 2002 — a 73-percent increase from the same month last year.
“As more buyers look for new vehicles across the country, Ford is ready with our strongest lineup ever of fuel-efficient cars, utilities and full-size pickups,” said Ken Czubay, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service. “Fuel economy remains one of the most important features customers want most today, and Ford is answering the call with five vehicles that deliver 40 mpg or better — with another three on the way by year-end.”
General Motors posted a 1.5-percent increase in vehicle sales, to 210,245 units, and thus marked its best September since the start of the financial crisis in 2008. New models helped push passenger car sales up 29 percent, although truck sales slumped 20 percent due to a reduction in fleet sales linked to the timing of customer deliveries.
Sales of GM’s mini, small and compact cars rose a combined 97 percent, the company said.
“Passenger cars have been the launch point for a broad and deep GM product offensive,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations. “Auto sales will continue to be a bright spot for the U.S. economy, which is particularly good news for GM as we walk into an even stronger cadence of new products in 2013 and 2014.”

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