Two of the Big 3 got bigger in January as year over year sales rose at Chrysler and Ford while General Motors saw its first decline since August of 2010.
Chrysler led the way with an impressive 44 percent gain over January 2011, with strong showings from its Jeep and Ram divisions delivering volume while the Chrysler luxury brand saw an 81 percent increase. Driven by sales of its Grand Cherokee and Wrangler models, Jeep outsold Dodge 31,710 to 31,454 to become Chrysler’s top-selling brand for the month.
Ford’s compact cars and crossover utility vehicles were behind the automaker’s smaller improvement, with the Focus and Explorer up 36 percent and 60 percent respectively. However, aside from the F-150 pickup, which was again the top-selling truck in America, Ford’s best-selling vehicle was the Escape compact crossover, which attracted 17,259 customers even as it is set to be replaced by an all-new model later this year.
Sales at General Motors were down for the first time in 16 months on weak demand for the company’s trucks and SUVs, although car sales were up 13 percent. The new Chevrolet Sonic and Cruze small cars beat their competitors from Ford, but GM’s best-selling car was also its oldest, the Chevrolet Impala. The full-size sedan is set to be replaced next year, but was upgraded for 2012 with a new engine and continues to be popular among fleet buyers.
Chevrolet Volt sales were also up from January of 2011, which was its first full month of limited availability, but the 2012 total of 603 was down dramatically from December’s tally of 1,529 in the wake of a redesign to address safety concerns brought about by a fire risk discovered during government testing.
Even with the decline, General Motors overall sales total of 167,962 was highest among American automakers.