December Car Sales Figures Show Signs Of Life

fromMR

U.S. automakers had a strong finish to 2010. December sales were up for every car company except Toyota. The good news has automakers revising their 2011 forecasts up.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

U.S. car companies ended 2010 with such a strong finish, they're boosting their forecasts for 2011.

Here's Tracy Samilton of Michigan Radio.

TRACY SAMILTON: Car sales in the U.S. showed some welcome signs of new life in December. Except for Toyota, still struggling from its recall crisis, car companies reported a significant boost in sales compared to the same month a year ago.

Rebecca Lindland is an analyst with IHS Automotive. She lives and works in Boston.

Ms. REBECCA LINDLAND (Analyst, IHS Automotive): There was a lot of concern, especially at the end there, that the East Coast would just be buried in our blizzard, but in fact everyone dug out and they went to dealerships.

SAMILTON: December was good to all three Detroit automakers. Ford's sales were up an impressive 19 percent over the same month in 2009. Chrysler's sales rose 16 percent. Sales were also up 16 percent for GM's remaining four brands.

Lindland says domestic car companies no longer seem to be starring into the abyss.

Ms. LINDLAND: The Detroit Big Three really, really came through 2010 far better than anybody expected.

SAMILTON: The improvement means it's no longer crazy talk to shoot for car sales topping 13 million this year. The wildcard will be a spike in gas prices. But even there, Detroit automakers are prepared. Ford has two new gas-sipping cars, the Fiesta and the Focus. GM has the Volt and the Cruze. Even Chrysler or technically its Italian partner - will launch a mini car with great gas mileage, the Fiat 500.

For NPR News, I'm Tracy Samilton in Ann Arbor.

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