The Detroit Three managed to achieve December U.S. sales gains of 5 percent, less than their Japanese rivals.

GM reported a sales increase of 5 percent compared with December 2001, Ford’s sales rose 2 percent, while Chryler increased sales 10 percent.

Toyota reported a 9 percent U.S. sales rise in December, in line with analysts’ expectations. Both Toyota and Honda are expected to end the year with much better sales gains than their U.S. competitors.

Toyota’s 2012 U.S. sales rose about 27 percent, compared with gains of 3.7 percent for GM, 4.7 percent for Ford and 21 percent for Chrysler. These top four automakers in U.S. sales showed a combined 6 percent gain in December sales.

Volkswagen reported a 30 percent increase for its VW brand and luxury brand Audi in December and a 31 percent gain for the entire year. U.S. auto sales for 2012 are expected to show a 13 percent rise to 14.5 million new vehicles, the best result since 2007, thanks to the recovering economy, more available credit and the need to replace aging cars and trucks.

According to Polk research consulting firm, U.S. auto sales are expected to hit 15.3 million vehicles in 2013, an increase of nearly 7 percent. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a 15.2 million annualized sales rate for December.


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