DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- GM (GM) reported a disappointing 6% sales decline in December, but overall 2013 was successful for the Detroit Three as the U.S. auto industry reported a fourth consecutive year of sales gains.
In December, Ford
(F) sales rose 2% to 218,058 vehicles. Chrysler sales rose 5.7% to 152,367, the group's best December total since 2007. GM sales declined 6% to 230,157 as retail sales fell 6% and fleet sales fell 9%. Ford estimated that December sales overall rose 3%. Toyota
(TM) sales fell 1.7% to 190,843 units.
For the full year, GM sales rose 7% to 2.8 million vehicles, with retail sales up 11%, while Ford sales rose 10.8% to 2,493,918, making Ford the best-selling U.S. brand for the fourth consecutive year. Ford Fiesta, Fusion and Escape all set annual sales records. Chrysler Group sales rose 9% in 2013, marking the fourth consecutive year of sales growth. Toyota sales rose 7.4% to 2,236,042 units.
Ford estimated that overall industry sales would grow 7% to 8% in 2013.
"The auto industry was a consistent bright spot in the economic recovery throughout 2013," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, in a prepared statement. "We expect the economy will continue to gain strength in 2014, with car sales rising to pre-recession levels."
In mid-morning trading, GM shares were down $1.11 to $39.84, following the company's sales report. Ford shares were down 4 cents to $15.40.
"December started a little slow but sales were stronger later in the month, especially in the week between Christmas and New Year's," said Kurt McNeil, GM vice president, U.S. sales operations, in a prepared statement.
For the full year, Ram Truck led the group with a 22% sales gain to 367,843. .Dodge brand sales rose 14% to 596,343, while Jeep sales rose 3% to 490,454 and Chrysler brand fell 2% to 302,492. Meanwhile, Kelley Blue Book said the average transaction price increased by an average of $197 month-over-month in December. The estimated average transaction price for light vehicles in the United States was $32,890, up 0.6% from November but down $159 (0.5 percent) compared with the same month a year earlier. GM average transaction prices saw little change year-over-year, the firm said, although Buick pricing fell 4.9% due to the introduction of the smaller, less costly Encore. GMC pricing rose 4.4%, Cadillac rose 1.4% and Chevrolet was flat. Ford pricing was down as F-150 pricing fell 1.3%, Escape pricing fell 1.7% and Focus pricing fell 2.6%. Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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