U.S. Automakers Predict Strong Sales in 2011

For 2010 Ford saw 19% sales increase while Chrysler was up 17% and GM was up 6%.

U.S. automakers expect to see strong sales this year after posting solid increases in 2010 sales on Jan. 4. Ford's sales were up 19%, while Chrysler saw an increase of 17% and GM was up 6%.

Ford said it was the biggest winner in 2010 as it expanded U.S. market share for the second year in a row to over 16% with total sales of 1.9 million vehicles. It was the automaker's first back-to-back market share increase since 1993.

"With our balanced line of high-quality, fuel-efficient products, we have a solid foundation to deliver more sales and improved results in 2011," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service.

"Consideration for Ford is increasing beyond our traditional areas of strength -- signaling that the seeds of growth already have taken hold."

Ford said it expects the global economy to expand 3% - 4% in 2011 while global auto sales reach record levels of 75 to 85 million vehicles. It estimates that 2010 global sales will increase 11% to 72 million vehicles. "The global economy is reaching a dynamic phase," said Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, Ford's chief economist. "Several indicators in key markets around the world suggest the potential for industry sales to continue to grow."

With regard to the U.S. economy, Ford expects expansion of 3% - 4% in 2011 and industry sales to be in the range of 12.5 to 13.5 million. However, that will still be significantly below the 15 to 17 million vehicles sold every year from 1994 through 2007.

GM had a more robust forecast for 2011 U.S. sales -- 13 to 13.5 million vehicles -- and said it was well positioned for gains after sales rose 6.3% to 2.2 million vehicles in 2010.

GM -- which launched the world's biggest initial stock offering in November -- said it managed to expand its market share in 2010 while its four remaining brands sold 118,435 more vehicles this year than the company's eight brands in 2009.

"Our sales this year reflect the impact of GM's new business model," said Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. sales operations. "The consistency of results that we achieved demonstrates the focus on our brands, dealers and customers, and how we compete aggressively for every sale, every day."

Chrysler attributed its solid gains to the business plan developed by Fiat's Sergio Marchionne, who took the helm after Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in June 2009.

"We are extremely proud of the sales strides we made during this transition year," said Fred Diaz, Chrysler's lead executive for U.S. sales.

The automaker launched 16 all-new or significantly improved models last year, most of them during the fourth quarter.

"We can now share our excitement with our customers as our new 2011 models arrive in dealerships in greater volumes over the coming months."

Chrysler's sales rose 17% to 1.09 million vehicles in 2010 after posting nine straight months of growth culminating in a 16% year-on-year gain for December.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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