Detroit's Big 3 Post Double-Digit Sales Gains


It's official: The government shutdown had little to no impact on Detroit automakers' sales. Ford , General Motors , and Chrysler sales combined to rise by 14% in October.

Individually, General Motors led the pack with a 16% gain after a weaker August and September. Ford and Chrysler rounded out Detroit's Big Three with sales gains of 14% and 11%, respectively. Here are some of the highlights.

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala was named best sedan by Consumer Reports. Photo Credit: General Motors.

General Motors - up 16% - 226,402 vehicles
Looking at General Motors' four brands, each performed very well in October. Total Buick sales increased 31%, and retail sales were up 25%, led by its Regal, which saw a 47% jump in sales. General Motors' Cadillac luxury brand sales have increased in each of the last 13 months, and were up 10% in October. Its Cadillac XTS and ATS continue to lead the brand through an excellent year.

The GMC Terrain had its best October sales ever, up 16%, driven by a 13.3% sales increase of the full-size Sierra pickup. General Motors' Chevrolet brand was up 15% in October, and had thirteen nameplates posting double-digit increases. Every single SUV and crossover increased sales by more than 10%; its most profitable product, the Silverado, was also up 10%.

General Motors is kicking off its fourth quarter with stronger sales of its most profitable products, and that looks to continue as its sales momentum builds. Sales of its new 2014 Silverado and Sierra increased 62% from September.

Ford- sales up 14% - 191,985 vehicles
Ford posted its best October retail sales figures dating all the way back to 2004. Ford's Fusion and Fiesta both set record October sales numbers, increasing 71% and 9%, respectively. Any month where the F-Series tops 50,000 in sales is a solid month, and October sales surpassed 60,000 for the six straight month.

Ford's success was spread across its lineup, with passenger cars up 19%, utilities up 9%, and trucks up 14%. Ford's Escape is on pace to just top 300,000 in annual sales, and the Fusion is just under the needed pace. Nop Ford model other than the F-Series has cracked that particular sales milestone in 9 years.

The F-Series is running away with America's best-selling vehicle title. It's on pace to sell nearly 750,000 full-size trucks in 2013. This will be the first year since 2006 that Ford's F-Series will top 700,000 in annual sales.

Investors have been waiting for management to replicate its overall Ford turnaround for its Lincoln luxury brand, but that isn't going to happen overnight. Lincoln is still in the early stages of its turnaround strategy, which will include four additional new model launches.

Lincoln sales were up 38% in October, led by a 80% increase in its flagship MKZ sedan. The numbers sound better than they are, since last October was a dismal month, and even a mediocre result this year looks very favorable. Still, Ford's made steady progress since January's MKZ debacle launch, in which the company was months late getting inventory to dealerships.

Graph by author. Sales figures from Ford's monthly sales releases.

Chrysler - sales up 11% -- 140,083 vehicles
Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram truck brands each posted year-over-year sales gains of 6%, 7%, 12%, and 22% in October. Chrysler's Ram pickup drove the gains in October, and was up 18% which is a good sign for Chrysler's profitability.

Another good sign is that Chrysler's Jeep Grand Cherokee, Compass, and Patriot posted significant sales gains of 20%, 68%, and 33%, respectively. Six of Chrysler's vehicles logged their best October sales ever, including the Jeep Wrangler and Patriot, the Dodge Journey, Dart, and Challenger, and the Ram Cargo Van.

"After a choppy start to the beginning of the month, Chrysler Group sales accelerated in the second half of the month with renewed consumer confidence and the launch of our all-new Jeep Cherokee," said Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales. "Following a meticulous focus on quality, our new Jeep Cherokee began shipping to dealers and quickly selling which helped us to achieve our 43rd-consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases."

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