• Winter takes bite out of US car sales

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    CHICAGO: Massive snowstorms and bitter cold took a bite out of US auto sales in January, but Chrysler said last week it extended a winning streak even as its rivals posted significant losses.

    January is typically the weakest sales month of the year as showrooms empty out following big year-end sales in December. But the unusually brutal winter weather—which buried huge swaths of the country in snow, ice and frigid temperatures—kept people at home and even delayed delivery of sales to government and corporate fleets.

    Total sales fell 3.1 percent compared with January 2013 while the seasonally adjusted sales pace fell to 15.2 million from 15.4 million in December, according to Autodata.

    Those losses are expected to help boost sales in February—so long as the awful weather clears out.

    General Motors forecast that the industry as a whole will post its best results since 2007 this year, with sales expected to climb to between 16 million and 16.5 million vehicles from 15.6 million in 2013. GM’s sales dropped 12 percent to 171,486 vehicles in January, weakened in part by planned reductions in low-margin sales to rental-car companies.

    Better results were ahead, the largest US carmaker insisted.

    Ford’s sales fell 7 percent in January to 154,644 vehicles. Toyota’s sales also dropped 7 percent from a year earlier to 146,365 vehicles.

    Chrysler bucked the trend with sales up 8 percent to 127,183 vehicles in its best January performance since 2008. The third largest US carmaker has now posted 46 consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains.

    Nissan also managed to plough through the wintery mess, with January sales rising 12 percent to 90,470 vehicles. That brought the carmaker within spitting distance of overtaking rival Honda for fifth place in the US market.

    Honda sales fell 2 percent to 91,631, but its luxury Acura division saw sales jump 14 percent to a January record of 10,823, thanks to its all-weather sport-utility vehicles.

    Korean carmakers Hyundai and Kia managed to post modest gains despite the bad weather, with Hyundai up 1 percent at 44,005 and Kia up 2 percent at 37,011.

    AFP

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