US: GM’s January sales up slightly, Ford’s down image

Auto sales in the United States beat expectations in January, with General Motors posting a slightly increase over a year ago. However, the snowstorm put some pressure on Ford.

Low gasoline prices, easy credit and a solid economic growth drove the US auto sales to record sales last year, these factors also helping the demand for January to stay high, despite the minus of two selling days and a massive East Coast snowstorm. General Motors’ Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers in the United States delivered 203,745 vehicles in January 2016, the company’s best January sales performance in eight years. GM’s retail sales were up sharply, climbing 9 percent year over year on the strength of a 12 percent increase at Chevrolet and a 45 percent increase at Buick. Total sales were up 0.5 percent, GM said. “We believe industry fundamentals such as the age of the vehicle fleet, well-managed inventory levels, firm used car pricing, good credit availability and low fuel prices will support higher industry sales in 2016,” said Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem. “In addition, household balance sheets are strong, and the labor market continues to improve.”

Coming off strong results last January, Ford Motor sold 173,723 vehicles last month, a 2.6 percent decline compared to a year ago, marking a 3.0 percent fell for the Ford brand and 8.4 percent rise for the Lincoln cars. Company’s US sales chief, Mark LaNeve, said the last five days of the month were strong, helping overcome the snowstorm’s effects, but he said the storm had pressured Ford’s sales to go down. January sales were forecast to decline as much as 5 percent industrywide based on the fewer selling days and the storm. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Nissan also reported sales gains and topped expectations.