by Katherine Harbin
CHICAGO, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- The "Big Three" U.S. automakers all announced on Tuesday U.S. auto sales in September, with Chrysler posting the biggest year-over-year increase and General Motors (GM) and Ford reporting strong passenger car sales.
The "Big Three" U.S. automakers all claimed September successes, as auto sales continue to be a source of strength in the uncertain American economy.
Chrysler Group LLC said it notched the best September sales since 2007, while GM also pegged last month as its highest September sales since 2008. Although year-over-year total sales for Ford Motor Company remained flat, Ford September retail sales posted a four percent year-over-year increase, and September small car sales logged their best sales since 2002.
GM also reported strong small car sales, with sales of GM's mini, small and compact vehicles up a combined 97 percent. GM passenger car sales were up a total of 29 percent, and GM praised their importance to the automaker's U.S. operation.
"Passenger cars have been the launch point for a broad and deep GM product offensive," said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations. "Auto sales will continue to be a bright spot for the U.S. economy, which is particularly good news for GM as we walk into an even stronger cadence of new products in 2013 and 2014."
However, despite the climb in passenger sales, GM truck sales reported a year-over-year 20 percent decrease. The automaker said the drop was due to a 46 percent year-over-year reduction in fleet sales because of the timing of customer deliveries.
As a whole, GM sold a total of 210,245 vehicles in September, with all four of its brands posting retail sales increases. Buick posted the strongest year-over-year total sales increase with 7.9 percent, while total sales of the Chevrolet brand increased 1.5 percent.
Chrysler sold a total of 142,041 cars in September, with a year- on-year increase of 12 percent.
Sales for the namesake Chrysler brand logged their best September sales since 2007, with the Chrysler 200 sedan setting a September sales record.
Other highlights included an all-time sales record for the Fiat brand, which posted a 51 percent gain. The Dodge brand also had a strong September, with the Dart posting a 72 percent monthly sales increase, and the Avenger and Journey models each posting September sales records.
Ford September sales totaled 174,976 cars, with increases reported in both small and larger vehicles.
Small car sales rose 73 percent since the same time last year, with the Focus, C-Max and Fiesta models totaling a combined 25,628 vehicles in September.
For larger cars, the Ford Escape posted a September sales record, with year over year sales rising 14 percent.
Although the Ford F-series pickup truck posted a one percent year-over-year sales increase, Ford said total truck sales were down eight percent due to the discontinuation of the Ranger model.
U.S. auto sales continue to gain over last year, and analysts continue to project an increase in full-year sales.
Chrysler said U.S. industry sales figures for September were projected at an estimated 14.9 million units Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR), while GM's September SAAR was pegged at 14.9 million vehicles. For the full year 2012, GM estimated total U.S. auto sales in the range of 14-14.5 million vehicles.