Detroit car companies crank out big sales gains in 2013

Led by Ford, the three Detroit-based auto companies turned in strong sales gains for 2013. In results announced Friday, Ford sales for the year rose 11 percent, Chrysler Group 9 percent and General Motors 7 percent. Toyota also had a strong sales year, up by 7 percent. 

The Ford brand is on track to edge out Toyota as the best-selling brand in the U.S.

In December sales alone, Chrysler was up 6 percent, Ford and Toyota both up 2 percent. GM was down 6 percent in December despite its overall strong year.

When all automakers have reported later today, analysts expect 2013 sales to total $15.6 million -- the most since 2007, according to a survey of analysts by Bloomberg News.

Here is a rundown of results in the individual companies:

  • Chrysler was led by its Jeep division, up 34 percent for the year. And  Jeep sales were led by the all-new Jeep Cherokee, which sold 15,038 units in December, its second full month of sales. Sales also were strong for Chrysler’s Ram pickup truck, rising 11 percent in December over a year earlier.
  • Ford  was paced by sales of its mid-size Fusion, up 27 percent in December.  And the Ford F-series pickup retained its perennial title as best-selling vehicle, with a strong 70,000 sales in December.
  • General Motors also had strong gains in pickup sales, with a 14 percent overall increase for its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. GM’s mini, small and compact cars like the Chevrolet Cruze and Spark rose 10 percent for the year.

While all auto sales in the U.S. have had a strong year, the Detroit companies have surged ahead in part because of a wide range of new models at dealerships. 

Previously strong Hyundai and Volkswagen, with less new designs to highlight, have lagged. In fact, Volkswagen sales were down by about seven percent for 2013.

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    Jerry Edgerton, author of Car Shopping Made Easy, has been covering the car beat since Detroit companies dominated the U.S. market. The former car columnist for Money magazine and Washington correspondent for Business Week, Edgerton specializes in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.