Chrysler said it sales increased 12% in September, as the automaker became the first to report sales on a day that is expected to show that the overall industry is continuing to rebound at a healthy rate.
For Chrysler, it was the best September since 2007 in the U.S. and its 30th straight month of year-over-year sales increases.
Sales of the company's Dodge brand increased 18 percent, helped by increased sales of the Dart, the company's new compact car. Sales of the Dart increased 72 percent to 5,235 units compared with the company's August results. Sales increased 51 percent for Chrysler's Fiat brand, 10 percent for Jeep, 5 percent for Chrysler and 4 percent for Ram.
All other automakers also are planning to announce total September sales of cars and trucks in the U.S. today.
The automotive industry is benefitting from as low interest rates, improved housing prices, more optimistic consumers and pent-up-demand from consumers with aging vehicles who are returning to dealer showrooms.
Most forecasters expect automakers will report U.S. sales for September that ran at an annualized rate between 14.4 million and 14.6 million vehicles, or about even with the pace of recent months. Morgan Stanley analysts projected an annualized rate of 15 million, which would equal the highest level since March 2008.
Jefferies and Edmunds.com projected sales will be about 10 percent higher than September 2011, while TrueCar.com expects a 10.5 percent year-over-year gain.
All Detroit automakers are expected to post modest increases. Japanese automakers, especially Toyota and Honda, are expected to continue to regain market share lost in 2011 in the aftermath of an earthquake and tsunami.
The University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment gauge rose to 78.3 in September -- the highest since May -- from 74.3 in August.
Also, Banks and credit unions are more willing to make auto loans at low rates. About 10 percent of new-car buyers in August financed their purchases with 0 percent loans, the highest mark in 2012.
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