DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- GM ( GM) blew by sales estimates in February, reporting a 1% sales gain when most experts had anticipated a decline. Meanwhile, Ford ( F) analyst Eric Merkle says the February seasonally adjusted annual sales rate including medium and heavy trucks was in the high 14 million range, perhaps as high as 15 million, also above estimates.
The fuel-efficient Chevrolet Sonic sold 7,900 units in February, its best month ever.
GM sales were expected to decline because the automaker offered extremely high incentives in February 2011 and has since pulled back. "What a difference four years makes and a change in product lines make for General Motors and Ford," says Edmunds.com analyst Michelle Krebs in a statement. "In 2008, when gas prices spiked, GM did not have competitive small fuel-efficient cars, but with today's rising gas prices, GM sales of the fuel-efficient Chevrolet Sonic and Chevrolet Cruze are soaring, carrying the brand and the company." Sonic sold 7,900 units, its best month ever, and Cruze sales exceeded 20,000 units for the sixth time. "Chevrolet's 6% sales increase, which was driven by new models, as well as a stronger economy, helped GM exceed last February's remarkably strong result," said Don Johnson, vice president for U.S. sales operations, in a statement. "We are continuing to execute the same disciplined sales strategy that was the key to our success in 2011." Johnson says "February light vehicle sales will top 1.1 million units, thanks to stronger employment and credit availability, an improving housing market and the recovery in consumer sentiment." -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/tedreednc. >To submit a news tip, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow TheStreet on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.