CHICAGO -- Ford (IW 500/8) and Chrysler showed strong sales gains Friday as the booming U.S. auto industry was expected to rack up its best performance in years.
Ford -- which sold some 2.5 million vehicles in the United States last year -- posted its best sales since 2006 with an 11% jump compared with 2012. December sales rose a more modest 2% compared with the same period a year ago, to 218,058.
"December was a strong close to an even better year for Ford," sales chief John Felice said. "We saw strong growth across the entire Ford lineup and made significant gains in the import-dominated coastal markets."
Chrysler reported its 45th consecutive month of gains as December U.S. sales rose 6% to 161,007 while 2013 sales were up 9% at 1.8 million.
Volkswagen bucked the upward trend by posting a seven percent drop in annual U.S. sales to 407,704 vehicles in 2013 while December sales were down 23% at 34,015.
But the German automaker celebrated the fact that -- for the first time in 40 years -- it managed to sell more than 400,000 vehicles in back-to-back years and nonetheless posted its second best U.S. December performance since 1972.
"Volkswagen is now operating at a new plateau," Mark McNabb, chief operating officer of Volkswagen of America, said.
"We are well positioned for our next phase of growth to come over the next few years."
Total industry sales in the United States are expected to rise 8% in 2013 to 15.6 million vehicles while December sales are forecast to grow 5%, according to automotive site Edmunds.com and vehicle valuation service Kelley Blue Book.
The last time annual U.S. auto sales topped 15 million vehicles was in 2007. They reached 14.8 million in 2012 after crashing to a low of 10.6 million in 2009 after the financial crisis pushed the industry into a deep downturn.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014