With all January sales reported, Chrysler Group, Volkswagen Group and Mazda set the pace as U.S. light vehicle sales rose 11 percent in January from a year ago, signaling the industry’s recovery is gaining traction.
Chrysler’s sales advanced by 44 percent last month, and volume climbed 40 percent at the Volkswagen Group.
Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., and Nissan Motor Co. also posted sales gains last month, but General Motors said deliveries dropped 6 percent.
It was GM’s first year-over-year monthly sales dip since May. GM’s four brands all posted declines, with Chevrolet down 1 percent, GMC down 10 percent and Buick and Cadillac off 23 percent or more. A year ago, GM’s sales were aided by generous discounts.
Automakers sold 913,284 light vehicles last month, up 11 percent from 819,886 a year ago.
The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for January hit 14.2 million — far above estimates and the highest rate since August 2009, when the government’s Cash for Clunkers program drove demand.
Toyota posted a 7.5 percent increase in sales, with the Toyota division’s 9 percent gain offsetting a drop of 5 percent at Lexus.
Honda Motor Co., hobbled for most of last year by inventory shortages stemming from the March 11 earthquake in Japan and floods in Thailand, posted its first sales gain since April. Honda said U.S. sales rose 9 percent to 83,009 units in January, with the Honda brand up 9 percent and Acura up 5 percent.
Hyundai Motor America set a January sales record of 42,694 units, up 15 percent from 2011. Kia also posted record January sales of 35,517 units, a 28-percent increase over the same period a year ago. It was the 17th straight monthly gain for Kia in the U.S. market.
Volkswagen AG said it sold 27,209 VW models in January, a 48 percent increase over a year ago.
Jeep brand sales increased 37 percent in January, Chrysler said, with all five Jeep models posting double-digit sales gains. Ram pickup sales climbed 47 percent last month, while Dodge deliveries increased 29 percent.
Ford U.S. sales for the month increased 7 percent to 136,701 vehicles. Sales of the Ford Focus drove 30 percent of the increase, the automaker said in a statement.
Nissan said its January sales rose 10.4 percent to 79,313 units. Nissan brand sales climbed 13 percent to 72,517, but Infiniti brand sales fell 8 percent to 6,796.
Mazda said heavy holiday advertising helped its U.S. dealers sell 23,996 vehicles last month, up 68 percent from January 2011 and the brand’s best January sales since 1994.
Fiat only sold 1911 vehicles in January, which has to be a huge disappointment. Mitsubishi sales fell 18% to 4711 vehicles, and Suzuki was off 41% with just 1505 sales to begin 2012.