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January Storm No Match For Strong Car Sales

DETROIT -- (WWJ) Despite some very strong headwinds, car and truck sales for January are coming in fairly even with 2015 levels--when they were expected to be down about three per cent.

"Mother Nature was no match for our Jeep brand last month as we recorded our best January Jeep sales ever," said Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales. "Overall, FCA US achieved its best January sales in nine years and our 70th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases."

Fiat-Chrysler lead the industry with a 7 percent sales increase, boost by fifteen percent better sales at Jeep.

While analysts had been expected sales to be impacted by a tough snow storm that socked the northeast. That storm was followed by warmer-than-average weather. Fiat Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel says that likely meant those sales were made up faster than they normally would have been.

"Our dealers were telling us over the last couple of days they had brisk business over the weekend."

Ford posted a sales decline of about three percent. The comparison was difficult because Ford sold a lot of previous-model F-150's in January of 2015. That pushed F-150 sales down five per cent. But, the vehicles that were sold generated more to Ford's bottom line.

"For Ford, overall transaction prices were up $1,800 in January – almost three times more than
the overall industry average – driven largely by strong customer demand, especially for our
SUVs and F-Series pickups," said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and

Lincoln brand sales rose 8 percent.

A great month for Buick pushed GM sales up half a percent.

"GM began 2016 in very strong competitive position," said Kurt McNeil, GM's U.S. vice president of sales operations. "We built on that momentum in January, with Chevrolet, Buick and GMC outperforming the retail industry by a wide margin. In fact, Chevrolet continues to grow faster than any other full-line brand."

It was a mixed bag at import brands. Nissan sales rose 2 percent. Toyota sales dropped 5 percent. Despite a great month for the new Civic, Honda sales dipped 2 percent.

Embattled Volkswagen saw its sales tumble nine percent, despite a slight uptick at the Audi luxury brand.

This January had two fewer selling days than last year. So, analyst Michelle Krebs says even a flat month is an indication that the industry remains on a growth track.

"A lot of the underlying economics that were in place last year remain in place, stronger economy, better job market."

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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