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Auto Sales Rise for Fourth Straight Year, With More Gains Seen in 2014

Additionally, F-Series will be the best-selling U.S. vehicle for the 32nd consecutive year: F-Series sales totaled 688,810 through November.

Kelley Blue Book estimated that full-year 2013 full-size truck sales gained 17% over 2012 levels and said compact crossovers were the industry's hottest segment, with sales up more than 20%. "In December, there will be a tight race for the 2013 sales leader, as the Honda (HMC) CR-V led the Ford Escape by fewer than 4,000 units going into the month," said Kelley Blue Book analyst Tim Fleming.

While 2013 sales were strong, Ford warned recently that net income will decline in 2014, due to costs associated with the product introductions. expects Ford to show a 6% sales gain in December, with GM (GM) up about 1%, Toyota up 4%, Chrysler up 8% and Honda up 6%. Overall industry gain should be 5.2%, the firm said.

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"December has become one of the best times of the year to buy a new car, and there's good reason for that," said analyst Jessica Caldwell in a prepared statement. "Smarter shoppers will especially zero in on leftover 2013 model year vehicles, which dealers will be more than happy to unload with big discounts and rock-bottom interest rates."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

To contact this writer,
click here.

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