4 July -
Chrysler sales rise 20% in June as car buyers seek out new models
Chrysler's US sales rose 20% in June on strong demand across its lineup, from the tiny Fiat 500 to the Ram pickup truck.
The automaker's sales increase last month was in line with expectations for overall industry growth of about 20% over last June. Sales were weaker last year because the Japanese earthquake depleted supplies. Other automakers report sales later Tuesday.
Demand for Chrysler's Ram pickup - its bestseller - increased 12% as home building perked up. Cars saw much bigger increases. Sales of the Fiat 500 and the Chrysler 300 large sedan more than doubled over last June.
The pace of US sales is cooling somewhat from the start of the year. Earlier this spring, sales were on track to reach 14.5m this year. The pace dropped to 13.8m in May and is expected to stay below 14m in June.
But so far, carmakers aren't panicking.
They say underlying demand remains strong, and new models like the Ford Escape and Dodge Dart — which both arrived in dealerships last month — will draw out buyers. Chrysler sold 200 Darts last month.
"Although this softer sales rate may persist over the next few months, we believe that 2012, like 2011, will finish out strongly," Barclays analyst Brian Johnson wrote in a recent note to investors.
Sales in the first four months of this year were boosted by mild weather and the post-earthquake return of Japanese inventories. But since then, the economic picture has gotten cloudier. In June, employers scaled back hiring and manufacturing shrank for the first time in nearly three years. Consumer confidence - which needs to be strong for buyers to invest in new cars - fell for the fourth straight month.