US Cars Sales Up In September; Chrysler Up, GM Up Slightly, Ford Flat

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By Angelo Young | October 3, 2012 4:23 AM EST

U.S. car makers on Tuesday reported mixed sales for September, as demand for passenger cars rose while demand for trucks fell.

Out of the Big Three U.S. automakers, Chrysler Group LLC gave the best performance, seeing its auto sales grow by 12 percent, its 30th consecutive month in positive territory. General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) and Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) reported flat or near-flat total sales.

Edmunds.com estimated U.S. car sales at 8.8 percent higher last month than in September 2011 while J.P. Morgan estimated that 14.6 million cars were sold, slightly higher than General Motors Company’s (NYSE:GM) own estimate of 14.5 million. Most analysts estimated overall growth at around 12 percent.

General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) reported a 1.5-percent rise in U.S. sales last month compared to September 2011, buoyed by a 7.9 percent rise in Buick sales and despite a 20 percent drop in truck sales.

Detroit-based GM said its sales of mini, small and compact cars growth 29 percent in September compared to last year as American car-buyers shift – as they often do during times of economic uncertainty and rising gas prices – to smaller more fuel efficient vehicles.

“Auto sales will continue to be a bright spot for the U.S. economy,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales, in a statement.

The country’s largest automaker said it saw “strong” sales of new Chevrolet Spark and Cadillac XTS, as well as Chevy Sonic and Cruze and the Buick Verano. It also reported a 16 percent rise in sales for the Buick Acadia and an 8 percent increase in purchases of the GMC Terrain.

Truck sales, however, were markedly down, “due to a 46 percent year-over-year reduction in fleet sales due to the timing of customer deliveries,” the company explained. Large pickup sales were down 12 percent and fleet sales plummeted 56 percent.

GM’s stock price was up 3.55 percent to $23.91 on Tuesday.

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) reported Tuesday that September U.S. sales were basically flat compared to last year thanks largely to a decline in truck sales attributed mainly to the discontinuation of the Ranger model.

The Detroit-based subsidiary of Italian Fiat SpA (Milan: F) sold 142,041 cars last month, a 12-percent increase from the year before and the 30th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases. Third quarter sales are up 13 percent from last year.

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