GM December Sales Fall 6%; Ford and Chrysler Gain

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.

Overall, "2013 was the year that GM and the auto industry put the last traces of the recession in the rearview mirror," McNeil said. "We have announced more than $10 billion in capital investments in the United States since 2009 and plowed billions more into R&D to refresh our product portfolio at twice the rate of the last few years."

At Ford, December Fusion sales rose 27% to 24,408, while full-year sales rose 22% to 295,280. Fiesta full-year sales rose 25% to 71,073. Escape sales rose 22% for the month to 24,462 and 13% for the year to 295,993. F-Series sales totaled 74,592 in December and 763,402 for the full year, the best year since 2006. Lincoln sales rose 8% in December. But Focus sales fell 31% to 15,569 as small car sales slumped.

"December was a strong close to an even better year for Ford Motor Company," said John Felice, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service, in a prepared statement. "We saw strong growth across the entire Ford lineup and made significant gains in the import-dominated coastal markets. He said Ford let major automakers in 2013 share point gain.

Chrysler said it has posted year-over-year sales gains for 45 consecutive months. In December, Jeep sales rose 34% to 53,275 as sales of the new Cherokee mid-size SUV totaled 15,038. Meanwhile, Wrangler and Jeep Patriot each recorded their best December sales ever. However, Dodge brand sales fell 9% to 47,689 and Chrysler brand sales fell 21% to 20, 270.

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.
To contact this writer, click here.
Follow @tedreednc

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