Chrysler, Extolled by Bob Dylan, Teases Rivals on January Sales

Updated to include Ford January sales total and comment.

DETROIT (TheStreet) -- Experts expect automakers to report January sales gains around 1%, which may be viewed as one more disappointing economic indicator, but Chrysler has bucked the trend.

Chrysler, the first automaker to report on Monday morning, said January sales rose 8%. The report came the morning after Chrysler once again won kudos for a Super Bowl advertisement extolling American auto producers.

Automakers said tepid January sales reflect harsh weather conditions around the country. Ford (F) said January sales fell 7%. But Chrysler teased its competitors on Monday. 

"The bad weather only seemed to affect our competitors' stores as we had a great January, with sales up 8% and achieved our 46th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases," said Reid Bigland, Chrysler head of U.S. sales, in a prepared statement.

Chrysler Group said sales rose 8% to 127,183, the highest January total since 2008. Chrysler, Jeep, Ram Truck, and Fiat brands all posted gains, led by Jeep's 38% increase to 41,910 units. But Dodge sales fell 19% to 34,905 units.

Sales of the Ram pickup truck, the best-selling Chrysler Group vehicle, rose 22% to 25,071. Sales of the Chrysler 300 fell 41% to 3,145, but sales of the smaller Chrysler 200 rose 23% to 10,912.

Edmunds.com had estimated Chrysler sales would rise 9%. But Edmunds said "the relentless blast of winter weather likely kept car shoppers away from dealerships in January" and forecast that overall January sales would decline by 0.6%, with GM (GM) and Ford showing the biggest declines.

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