Trucks, SUVs drive U.S. vehicle sales in January

Tue Feb 3, 2015 11:21am EST
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By Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) - January U.S. car sales by the three Detroit-based automakers topped analysts' expectations, as low gasoline prices and easy credit terms helped fuel sales of utility vehicles and big pickups.

Full-size trucks and SUVs are among the industry's most profitable vehicles. But some companies were having trouble supplying dealers with enough of those high-margin models in January.

Sales of trucks and SUVs accounted for 69 percent of January sales at General Motors Co GM.N, Ford Motor Co F.N and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCHA.MI, compared with 66 percent a year ago, according to a Reuters analysis.

GM said on Tuesday that January sales rose 18 percent to 202,786 vehicles, while Ford said sales were up 15 percent to 178,351. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected 201,436 and 173,431, respectively.

Fiat Chrysler's U.S. arm said January sales rose 14 percent to 145,007 vehicles, against analysts' expectations of 144,476.

"As the price of gasoline goes down, people want to buy bigger vehicles that go faster," said Mike Jackson, chief executive officer of AutoNation Inc AN.N. "That's just human nature."

Ford sold a record 54,370 F-series pickups in January and said the redesigned 2015 F-150 remained in short supply, particularly high-end versions including the King Ranch and Platinum editions.

GM said combined sales of its full-size Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups were up 22 percent to 48,727. Sales of the automaker's new mid-size Colorado and Canyon pickups totaled 8,147.   Continued...

An employee looks on next to an assembly production line of Buick cars at a General Motors factory in Wuhan, Hubei province January 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer