Chrysler US Auto Sales Rise 6.9% – Wall Street Journal
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Tuesday posted a 6.9% rise in U.S. auto sales in the first month of the year, a modest increase as fewer selling days and heavy snow kept car shoppers from dealerships.
Still, auto makers are poised to record their highest rate of sales for the month in a decade. The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of sales is projected to reach 16.8 million units for January, up from 16.7 million a year before and the highest rate since 2006, according to J.D. Power & Associates and LMC Automotive.
Fiat Chrysler sold 155,037 vehicles in January, compared with 145,007 for the month last year, extending the Italian-U.S. auto maker’s sales gains streak to 70 months. Jeep sales jumped 15% to the brand’s best-ever for the month. Consumers continue to drive larger, pricier vehicles off the lots, and the Ram pickup truck also registered its best January sales.
John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power, said Winter Storm Jonas dented retail sales 30%—or 15,000 new vehicles—on the East Coast.
“Despite the storm, we’re still seeing a strong month,” he said, noting those sales will likely be recovered in February.
Besides the storm battering sales one weekend, January had 24 selling days versus 26 in the month last year.
The month follows a year in which auto makers reported their strongest annual U.S. sales ever with 17.5 million cars and light trucks sold, taking a major boon from cheap fuel and low interest rates.
LMC Automotive forecast 17.8 million light vehicles will be sold in 2016.
“We expect 2016 to be another record year, but all eyes will be tracking the expected slower growth rate as the year progresses,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. “All brands will not be able to grow as they have over the past few years, creating a higher level of competitive intensity and pressure on each brand.”
Write to Anne Steele at Anne.Steele@wsj.com