Ford, GM, Chrysler report double-digit gains


DETROIT — Ford's U.S. sales rose 22 percent in January on strong sales of pickup trucks and new vehicles.

Other U.S. automakers also reported strong sales for the month today. General Motors and Chrysler both reported sales were up 16 percent.

At Ford, F-Series truck sales jumped 22 percent over last January. Many analysts are predicting stronger truck sales in 2013 as housing construction increases.

Sales of the new Fusion midsize sedan climbed 65 percent from a year earlier. The Fusion was introduced late last year.

Sales of the new Ford Escape SUV, which struggled last fall after a series of safety recalls, rose 15.5 percent. Ford said it was the strongest January ever for the Escape, with nearly 20,000 sold.

Ford Explorer SUV sales were also strong, up 46 percent over last January.

Ford's luxury Lincoln brand saw an 18-percent decline. Ford is in the midst of a multi-year revamp of Lincoln's products.

General Motors said it sold almost 195,000 cars and trucks last month, led by the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, with a 32 percent gain. GM sold more than 35,000 Silverados in January, a good sign for the economy as businesses replace aging trucks.

Industry analysts expect January sales to hit an annual rate of close to 15.5 million. If that trend holds through the rest of the year, sales will be 1 million more than last year.

Chrysler reported its best January in five years.

The automaker said today it sold nearly 118,000 cars and trucks last month.

Sales of the Ram pickup, Chrysler's top-selling vehicle, were up 14 percent from a year earlier, which indicates that truck sales are on the rise. Chrysler sold more than 20,000 Rams in January.

The midsize Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger sedans also had strong showings for the month, with 200 sales up 26 percent and Avenger sales up 69 percent. Sales of the Dodge Journey crossover SUV almost doubled.

But sales of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, another big seller for Chrysler, slowed a bit. They were up only 4 percent.