Fiat Chrysler Jumps 20 Percent As December Auto Sales Stay Strong

Jan 05, 2015 03:08 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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Auto sales surged in December to finish a strong year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles headlining the reports with a 20 percent increase in sales for the month.

FCA posted U.S. sales of 193,261 units, a 20 percent increase year over year that marked the group's best December sales in a decade, according to the automaker. The company passed 2 million units for the year to report its best annual sales since 2006.

With 11 FCA vehicles setting sales records, a few of the group's top performers in December were the Ram pickup truck; the all-new Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Wrangler; the Chrysler 200; and the Fiat 500L.

"Last year marked our fifth consecutive year of annual sales growth in the U.S., and once again, we were the fastest-growing automaker in the country," Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales, said in a statement.

Ford didn't fare so well, its sales of 2,480,942 vehicles in the U.S. for 2014 remaining flat year over year. The company cited its investment in the newly aluminum F-150 pickup and a planned 15 percent reduction in daily rental sales as factors in the lack of sales growth.

The automaker sold 220,671 vehicles in December for a 1 percent increase compared with the same period in 2013, still reporting its strongest December since 2005.

Despite being hit by a slew of recalls in 2014, General Motors had growing sales throughout the year and reported a "blockbuster" December, delivering 274,483 vehicles for a sales increase of 19 percent year over year.

The Chevrolet Corvette and Spark; the Buick Enclave and Encore; and the GMC Sierra had their best sales month ever. A revitalized economy and low fuel prices helped boost GM for its strongest December in seven years.

"Everything you need to have a great month was in place," Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations, said in a statement.

Japanese brands enjoyed robust sales as well, with Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda all reporting increased deliveries last month.

Toyota posted December sales of 215,057, a volume-based increase of 12.7 percent from the same month the previous year, while Lexus had its best month of all time, reporting 39,879 in sales, or a 14.7 percent increase. 

Nissan also had a record December, selling 117,318 units for an increase of 6.9 percent. 2014 marked Nissan's best year ever for sales when the automaker hit 1,269,565 total sales. Honda set a new yearly record by selling 1,373,029 vehicles, a 1 percent increase in annual sales compared with 2013.

Overall, the U.S. auto industry had its strongest sales year since before the recession; analysts have projected that full-year sales will be around 17 million vehicles, which would be the best in 10 years, according to the Wall Street Journal. This year's sales are expected to show growth but at a slower rate.

Kelley Blue Book figures put the average price for light vehicles at $34,367, marking a 3 percent increase year over year and the highest average cost ever.

"The industry finished last year on a high note thanks to a strong economic tailwind," Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president, said in a statement. "That momentum should continue in 2015 and combined with continued strong replacement demand, boost sales further."

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