January Auto Sales Slump on Cold Weather

24/7 Wall St.

Automakers reported January U.S. sales throughout the morning Monday, and it looks like carmakers posted mostly weaker results. Cold weather in the eastern half of the United States weighed on sales in what is already historically the weakest month for car sales.

Based on analysts' estimates, January's seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for 2014 stands at 15.6 million units. Sales in 2013 totaled 15.6 million units, up 8% over 2012 sales.

Chrysler's year-over-year sales rose 8% to 127,183 units, the company's best January sales level since 2008. The company's Chrysler, Jeep, Ram Truck and Fiat brands all posted gains in the January. Month-over-month, however, sales fell by almost 34,000 units, or 21%. Chrysler projected a seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales from all manufacturers at 15.6 million units for 2014, down from last month's projection of 15.8 million. The company ended the month with 79 days supply of inventory, flat with December's total.

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Ford Motor Co.'s (NYSE:F) U.S. sales fell 7% year-over-year in January, to 154,644 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, compared with January 2013 sales of 166,501. Sales were down for all types of vehicles, with car sales off 13.4%, utility vehicle sales off 5.8% and truck sales down 2.2%. Only the Ford Mustang and the Lincoln MKZ and MKX models posted year-over-year sales gains. The company blamed poor weather in Ford's largest sales regions

Sales for General Motors Co. (GM) fell 11.9% year-over-year in January to 171,486 vehicles. GM pointed out that January is the industry's lowest sales month of the year and said "extreme" winter weather pushed sales down even more this year. Based on January sales, GM estimates that the full-year seasonally adjusted annual rate of U.S. sales for all carmakers will total 15.3 million light vehicles sold, down from a December rate of 15.6 million. GM estimates total U.S. sales from all carmakers in 2014 to total 16.0 million to 16.5 million units, the best year since 2007.

Sales at Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) for the month totaled 146,365 units, down 7.2% compared with January 2013. A company executive said, "January was off to a solid start, but the weather condition slowed industry sales in key markets late in the month." Toyota also announced late last week that it would stop selling certain models due to a problem with seat heaters.

Volkswagen sold just 23,494 units in the United States in January. That was a drop of 19% year-over-year, on top of a 22.7% drop in December sales. In 2013, VW sold 407,704 vehicles, compared with 438,133 in 2012, a decline of 6.9%.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (HMC) reported fiscal third-quarter results last Friday. In the quarter the company sold 900,000 units, a year-over-year increase of 7%. Auto sales revenue rose 23.9%. The company said it expects to sell 1.6 million cars in the United States in 2014. January sales data will not be released until after markets close Monday.

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