December 2010 US auto sales image

U.S. auto sales rose to the highest rate in 16 months in December – topping industry and Wall Street expectations.

General Motors reported a 16% jump in December sales for the car maker’s four remaining brands compared with a year ago.

Ford’s gains in 2010 (Ford Dec US sales up 7 pct )allowed it to recapture the position of No. 2 automaker in U.S. sales, trailing only GM, for the first time since 2006, reclaiming the spot from Toyota Motor. On the same time, Chrysler Group LLC said its sales of cars and light trucks climbed 16%.

However, the scenario was not the same for Toyota. Toyota recalled more than 8 million vehicles last year, mostly for flaws related to unintended acceleration, with the majority occurring in the U.S. The company temporarily halted U.S. production and sales of eight models, including its top-selling Camry and Corolla cars in January to fix the flaws.

Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. said Tuesday its U.S. auto sales in December slipped 2 percent from the year before as a 13 percent decline in passenger car sales offset gains in SUV and light truck sales.

U.S. auto sales rose more than 11 percent in 2010, snapping a four-year slide that forced the Detroit automakers into a wrenching restructuring that included government-directed bankruptcies for GM and Chrysler.

Among European makers, Daimler AG said U.S. sales of its Mercedes-Benz and Smart vehicles rose 5.5% in December from a year ago, while both BMW AG and Volkswagen AG said monthly sales climbed 17%.

“We have seen real improvement in actual consumer demand, particularly in the last quarter of 2010,” analyst Jesse Toprak said.


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photo credit: reuters
Source: Reuters