Detroit Three End 2012 With a Bang

Detroit Three End 2012 With a Bang

Thankfully the world didn’t end last month like Mayan soothsayers erroneously predicted centuries ago. Clearly prophecy wasn’t their major at Yucatan Community College. From an automotive perspective, the year-end news was quite good, with the Detroit Three each posting modest gains.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler ended the year in the black. Starting with month-over-month figures, GM dealers delivered nearly 246,000 vehicles in December. That’s a 5 percent increase compared to the same month back in 2011; it was also the company’s best retail sales month of 2012. Volume was up 38 percent compared to November.

Ford’s performance wasn’t quite as strong as its cross-town rival’s. The Blue Oval’s sales were up 2 percent, but that was still enough to make the month its strongest December since 2006. Total deliveries nearly topped 213,000 units.

Moving from Dearborn to Auburn Hills, Chrysler and its throng of brands topped 152,000 sales — a solid 10 percent increase compared to December 2011. This was the Pentastar’s 33rd-consecutive month of year-over-year gains. Who thought the company would ever be doing this well just a couple years ago? Many people had written them off for dead.

Shifting to total sales for 2012, GM not surprisingly leads this category as well. All told the venerable General delivered almost 2.6 million vehicles. That’s 4 percent more than the preceding year.

Ford’s 2012 sales grew by a solid 5 percent. Including Lincoln, its dealers moved 2,243,009 cars, trucks and crossovers. At 10 percent, F-Series sales were up double digits and the increase cemented the franchise’s title of America’s best-selling truck. This is the 36th year they’ve taken home that honor.

Last but not least, Chrysler’s total sales jumped up an impressive 21 percent compared to 2011. They really moved the metal; more than 1.6 million buyers drove away from a Chrysler store in a new vehicle last year. However, Fiat’s year-over-year sales were up a whopping 121 percent. Nearly 44,000 Cinquecentos were delivered. The car was only on sale 10 months in 2011, which is part of the reason for the huge percentage increase.

It’s a good thing whenever automakers can end a calendar with charts that have arrows pointing up, and the Detroit Three each made it through another year. Hopefully the industry continues to grow in 2013 so everyone can put the ravages of the Great Recession in their collective rear-view mirror and get on with business.