May Auto Sales at Chrysler and Ford Rise on Truck Sales


Auto sales numbers for May are due out from most U.S. and foreign automakers today, and last month's unexpected drop at Chrysler Group is in the rear-view mirror. Chrysler, which is controlled by Italy's Fiat SpA, reported sales of 166,596 units, up 11% compared with May 2012, the company's best May sales since 2007.

Month-over-month, Chrysler's sales rose about 6.3%, from 156,698 units sold in April. The company's Chrysler brand had a sales increase of 4% in May, far better than the 11% decline in April. Sales of the company's Jeep brand rose 1% year-over-year, after a rise of 2% in April.

Chrysler's May sales mark the 38th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth. Sales of Dodge-branded vehicles rose 23%, higher than the 18% year-over-year growth posted in April. The Ram pickup truck brand got a sales boost of 24%, to its highest level in six years. However, that is considerably lower than the Ram increase of 49% in April.

In another development, Fiat SpA's majority holder has sold its stake in a Swiss company for $2.6 billion, which may indicate that the Italian automaker is revving up to acquire the 41.5% of Chrysler that it does not already own.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) reported last Friday that sales of its hybrid cars in the first five months of 2013 have surpassed the company's previous full-year record of 35,496 vehicles sold in 2010. The company expects sales through May to total 37,000.

At Ford, May sales rose 14% year-over-year to 246,585 units sold. In May 2012 the company sold 216,267 units. Sales in April of this year totaled 212,584.

The company's push to boost its Lincoln brand continues to improve slowly. Sales rose just 0.4% year-over-year in May. Year to date, Lincoln sales are down 10.5% for the first five months of 2013. That is an improvement from the first four months of 2013, when Lincoln sales were down 13.4% compared with the first four months of 2012.

Ford also said it plans to build 740,000 vehicles in the third quarter of 2013 at its North American plants, up 10% from the company's third-quarter 2012 manufacturing levels.

Shares of Ford are up about 2.1% in the first few minutes of trading this morning at $16.01, after posting a new 52-week high of $16.07 earlier. The prior 52-week range was $8.82 to $16.04.

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) will report sales later today.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Autos Tagged: F, GM, HMC, TM