U.S. automobile sales soared in December

The Big Three U.S. automakers reported their best December sales since before the Great Recession hit in 2008.

Chrysler, controlled by Italy’s Fiat SpA, led the way with a 10-percent jump in December sales to 152,367 vehicles, its best December since 2007.

The firm’s top-selling name plates included Chrysler, Dodge, Ram Truck and Fiat. For the year, Chrysler posted a 21-percent sales increase, to more than 1.65 million vehicles.

“Looking back on 2012, we were again one of the fastest-growing auto makers in the country,” said Reid Bigland, head of both the Dodge brand and U.S. sales. “We also recorded 33 consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth and our strongest annual sales in five years…Seven of our vehicles recorded their best ever annual sales in 2012.”

General Motors Co. reported its highest December sales in five years, with deliveries up 5 percent to 245,733 vehicles. December was GM’s strongest month of 2012.

“All four GM brands increased their sales year over year in December and we were strong across the board in cars, crossovers and pickup trucks,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations. “In December, GM became the first U.S. auto maker to sell more than 1 million vehicles in a single year that get an EPA-estimated 30 mpg or better on the highway.”

GM’s total sales for the year rose nearly 5 percent to just under 2.6 million vehicles.

Ford Motor Co. recorded its best December sales since 2006, growing 2 percent to 214,222 vehicles. For all of 2012, Ford’s car sales rise 5 percent, while utility vehicle sales gained 7 percent and trucks edged 2 percent higher.

In total, Ford sold nearly 2.17 million vehicles last year.

“Ford finished 2012 strong, with retail sales showing improved strength as more customers returned to dealer showrooms,” said Ken Czubay, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service. “Ford’s fuel-efficient cars and hybrid vehicles showed the most dramatic growth for the year, and we achieved our best year for commercial vehicle sales since 2008.”

December traditionally is a strong sales month for automobiles, as dealers try to push inventories to make room for the next model year.

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