DETROIT May 1 Chrysler Group LLC, a unit of
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, reported a 14 percent rise
in U.S. auto sales for April, which is higher than the expected
9 percent increase for the industry.
April is seen as another strong month in what has so far
been a strong sales year after allowing for cold and snowy
weather in January and February.
Economists polled by Reuters expect the industry's annual
sales rate in April to come in at 16.2 million vehicles, which
would be slightly slower than March.
While Chrysler reported its 49th straight month of
year-over-year monthly sales growth, it missed analysts'
expectations for April U.S. sales. Nine analysts told Reuters
they expected Chrysler's sales to total 180,837 vehicles, higher
than the 178,652 reported by the No. 3 U.S.-based automaker.
Sales at Chrysler's Jeep line, which is to be the primary
global brand of a merged Fiat and Chrysler expected later this
year, rose 52 percent in April from a year earlier.
Jeep U.S. sales of 205,593 in the first four months of the
year were 46 percent higher than a year earlier. Chrysler Chief
Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne has set a target of 1
million in global sales for Jeep for the year.
Chrysler's Ram truck sales rose 17 percent to 36,674 in the
month and were up 23 percent so far this year.
Chrysler's Dodge brand sales were essentially the same in
April as a year earlier. Dodge Caravan minivan sales rose 36
percent, but Dodge Dart sedan sales fell 26 percent.
Monthly auto sales are seen as an early snapshot of consumer
demand for big-ticket items. Analysts and investors will be
looking closely at demand for profitable trucks and where
profit-sapping incentives offered by automakers are heading.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)