The Detroit 3 – aided by new models and demand for fuel-efficient cars and pickups – posted higher February sales today, extending a rebound even as rising gasoline prices threaten to slow the industry’s momentum.
General Motors Co. led the gains with a 46 percent increase. Ford Motor Co. gained 10 percent, and Chrysler Group advanced 13 percent. Subaru jumped 20 percent and Nissan said it posted record February sales of 92,370 units, up 32 percent. Most other automakers have yet to report.
Analysts project February’s annualized sales rate to hold above 12 million vehicles for the fifth consecutive month, in the latest sign that the U.S. industry’s steady recovery is continuing – helped in part by a modest rise in incentive spending this year.
“The industry average for incentives is the lowest for February since 2007,” TrueCar analyst Jesse Toprak said. “The perception of a pricing war and overindulgence of using incentives is exaggerated.”
Ford’s 10 percent February gain marked its sixth consecutive monthly increase.
Sales at the Ford division, aided by new models and the F-150 pickup, rose 22 percent, offsetting an 11 percent decline at Lincoln.
Ford said its retail sales jumped 14 percent last month, with small car demand more than doubling.
“With oil nearing $100 per barrel and gasoline prices continuing to rise, consumers’ consideration for fuel economy once again is taking top billing,” Ken Czubay, Ford’s U.S. sales and marketing chief, said in a statement.
Chrysler’s 13 percent increase reflected an 81 percent jump in Ram brand sales and a 23 percent increase in Jeep volume. Chrysler’s car sales slipped 31 percent while truck demand advanced 32 percent.
Article courtesy of David Phillips & Automotive News — March 1, 2011 – 10:21 am ET; Photo Credit: Bloomberg