(MENAFN - Saudi Press Agency) U.S. automakers Friday reported double-digit gains for January, as last year‚„s momentum in auto sales continued into 2013.
Ford‚„s sales rose 22 percent compared with a year earlier, while General Motors (GM) and Chrysler each reported 16 percent gains. It was Chryslers best January in five years.
Analysts said they expected Americans to buy new vehicles at a strong pace last month, as the industry remains a bright spot in a tepid U.S. economic recovery.
Chrysler, the first major automaker to report sales Friday, estimated that total U.S. industry sales hit an annual rate of 15.5 million in January. If that holds for the rest of the year, automakers will sell 1 million more vehicles than in 2012, when sales rose 13 percent.
Analysts said they are expecting sales for all of 2013 to reach 15 million to 15.5 million. Although still far from the recent peak of about 17 million in 2005, the industry could sell 5 million more cars and trucks than it did in 2009, the worst year in at least three decades.
Typically, January is a lackluster month for sales, as people avoid going out in winter weather across much of the country, but they are apparently willing to venture out this year.
‚"(January) was like a sprinter out of the starting blocks,‚ said Mike Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation, the country‚„s largest auto dealership chain.
Analysts said that sales for the month should exceed 1 million vehicles and are likely to be 8 percent to 15 percent higher than a year earlier.