DETROIT Jan 3 Chrysler Group LLC on Friday
reported a 6 percent gain last month in U.S. auto sales, its
best December since 2007, but still narrowly missed analyst
Jeep sales rose 34 percent in the month, led by the new
Cherokee, which sold four times as well in December as the
vehicle it replaced, the Jeep Liberty, did a year ago.
Five analysts had expected Chrysler to gain about 7 percent
over last year's December sales.
U.S. automakers are expected to show a gain of 4 percent in
December new-vehicle sales from a year ago.
Chrysler is the first of the major automakers in the U.S.
market to report December sales on Friday.
Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters see the annualized
sales rate for December at 16 million vehicles, a level that has
been topped only in November and August last year.
For all of 2013, U.S. auto sales are expected to finish near
15.6 million, up about 8 percent.
While some economists and analysts expect 2014 sales to rise
to a range of 16 million to 16.5 million vehicles, there is a
growing concern that competition will intensify, leading to
higher incentives and lower profits for companies.
Research firm TrueCar.com said vehicle transaction prices
fell by an average of $200 per vehicle in December, or 0.6
percent, over last year while incentives were up $103 per
vehicle, or 4 percent.
Chrysler is majority owned by Italy's Fiat. Earlier
this week, the two companies announced that Fiat would buy the
remainder of Chrysler that is currently owned by a United Auto
Workers healthcare trust, for $4.35 billion. That deal is
expected to close by Jan. 20.