Ford and GM Say Winter Weather Depressed January Sales

Detroit ( TheStreet) --  Ford ( F) and GM ( GM) both reported diminished January sales and said weather was to blame.

Ford said sales fell 7% last month to 154,644 units, while GM said sales fell 12% to 171,486 units. Ford said its retail sales fell 5%. Weather had the greatest impact in the Great Lakes and Central regions, where pickup truck sales are highest, Ford said.

"Given the difficult weather in our largest sales regions, we are fortunate to have held in at retail as well as we did," said John Felice, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service, in a prepared statement. "In areas where the weather was good, such as in the West, sales were up.

"The poor weather also had an impact on the timing of some of our fleet deliveries," Felice said. "A bright spot is Lincoln, which had its strongest sales in four years."

GM said retail sales were down 10%, although retail deliveries of passenger cars were up slightly. Fleet deliveries declined 18%, due to a planned reduction in rental vehicle sales.

GM noted that historically January is the industry's lowest sales month of the year. "Extreme winter weather in the South, Midwest and Northeast this January further depressed GM and industry sales," the company said. GM estimated the seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) to be 15.3 million, down from 15.6 million in December.

For the full year, GM expects light-vehicle sales to be in a range of 16 million to 16.5 million units, which would be the industry's best year since 2007, when 16.2 million vehicles were sold. GM expects to earn modestly higher market share in this environment.

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