CHELSEA, Mich. (Bloomberg) -- Chrysler Group LLC sees U.S. auto sales in June running at about the pace of May, the industry’s slowest month of 2012.
“We’re going to have a similar industry from a SAAR perspective that we had in May in June,” Reid Bigland, Chrysler’s head of U.S. sales, said today at the automaker’s proving grounds here. “We probably had a little bit of a pull-ahead into February and March” because of mild winter weather and “brighter prospects about the economy.”
Chrysler joins Ford Motor Co., which sees the industry sales pace in June being in line with May’s 13.8 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate, or SAAR, the slowest this year, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
U.S. vehicle sales, including medium- and heavy-duty trucks, are on pace for a low-14 million sales in June, “consistent with May,” Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas, told reporters on Tuesday. Excluding medium- and heavy-duty deliveries usually lowers the rate by about 200,000 to 300,000 units.
Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is counting on U.S. growth this year to offset weakness in Europe, where sales are headed for a fifth-consecutive year of declines. Chrysler dealers this month began taking initial deliveries of the Dodge Dart compact, which Marchionne has said is the most important new model introduction since 2009.
Chrysler will sell its first “couple hundred” Darts in June and has about 1,000 cars in inventory now, said Bigland, who is also president of the Dodge brand. The company’s plant in Belvidere, Illinois, will reach “full blast” output within the next four weeks, he said.
Chrysler boosted U.S. sales by 33 percent this year through May to 689,257 cars and light trucks. Industrywide deliveries rose 13 percent during that span.
Full-year sales for the industry will probably gain about 10 percent to 12 percent, Bigland said.