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[NEW YORK] Major automakers on Tuesday reported large gains in January US sales as the improving economy and low fuel prices kept demand high for larger vehicles.
General Motors scored an 18 per cent gain in US sales, with big gains in its Silverado pickup truck and GMC line of sports utility vehicles. Total sales were 202,786.
"Consumers feel very good because more people are working, the US economy is expanding and fuel prices are low," said Kurt McNeil, GM's US vice president of sales.
"Consumer and commercial demand for trucks and crossovers is really driving our business." Ford Motor said sales rose 15 per cent, with the number-two US automaker notching large gains for the Focus and Mustang cars, as well as many SUVs and trucks. Total sales were 178,351.
The automaker pointed to robust demand for its new aluminum-bodied F-150, which is averaging 12 days on dealer lots.
JPMorgan Chase said both GM and Ford exceeded expectations in their January sales. JPMorgan said GM's mix of products sold was "great," while its note on Ford highlighted the role of the F-150 in boosting sales.
January sales at FCA US, the US arm of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, rose 14 per cent to 145,007, due to solid gains in its Jeep brand of vehicles and Ram trucks.
Toyota Motors said January sales grew 16 per cent to 169,194 units behind a strong performance for its signature Corolla car, RAV4 midsized truck and other models.
Besides an improving labor market and low fuel costs, Edmunds.com said the January results showed the benefit of "unusually favorable" financing conditions, thanks to low interest rates.