DETROIT Oct 1 Chrysler Group LLC surprised auto
industry analysts with a modest 1 percent increase in U.S. car
sales in September.
Chrysler, an affiliate of Italy's Fiat SpA, said it
sold 143,017 vehicles, handily beating analysts' expectations.
The U.S. auto industry's sizzling summer sales pace is
expected to have stalled last month, for the first year-on-year
sales decline in more than two years. There were two fewer
shopping days in September, compared with the previous year, and
part of the Labor Day shopping weekend fell in August.
Chrysler bucked that trend, with sales of its Dodge,
Chrysler and Ram brands all reporting modest increases in
Fiat brand sales plunged 24 percent, the first year-to-year
decline in 18 months.
Jeep sales fell 5 percent, as Chrysler struggled to get the
all-new 2014 Cherokee to dealers.
Chrysler said its U.S. dealers reported the best September
sales since 2007.
Analysts who closely watch the auto industry predict
September's annualized sales rate will be in the range of 15.2
million to 15.7 million. The lower end of that range would fall
short of summer's torrid pace, including a 16 million rate in
August that marked the strongest performance in nearly six
Chrysler projected the industry's annualized rate in
September at 15.7 million, including about 300,000 heavy trucks.
(Reporting by Paul Lienert and Bernie Woodall in Detroit;
Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)