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Chrysler Joins Nissan Exceeding U.S. Sales Estimates in February

March 3 (Bloomberg) -- Chrysler Group LLC and Nissan Motor Co., aided by new sport-utility vehicles, exceeded analysts’ U.S. sales estimates for the second month in a row in February.

Chrysler deliveries rose 11 percent to 154,866 with its Jeep SUV brand increasing sales by 47 percent, the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker said today in a statement. The third- largest U.S. automaker beat the average of five analyst estimates for an 8.8 percent gain in a survey by Bloomberg News.

Nissan’s deliveries, including its Infiniti luxury brand, rose 16 percent last month to 115,360, beating analysts’ estimates that projected a 12 percent gain. Rogue SUV sales rose 73 percent to 17,197 while Nissan’s namesake brand trucks as a whole gained 33 percent, Japan-based automaker said today in an e-mailed statement.

“The severe weather has been ideally suited for our legendary Jeep 4x4 capability,” Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Chrysler, said in the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company’s statement.

Nissan may have led gains in the U.S. market, based on analysts’ estimates. General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. may report declines, based on the estimates.

Light-vehicle sales in the U.S. may have risen 0.3 percent in February to almost 1.2 million, the average of seven analyst estimates. The annualized rate, adjusted for seasonal trends, probably reached 15.4 million, the average of 13 analyst estimates, from 15.3 million in February 2013.

Jeep Strength

Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of both Chrysler and Fiat SpA, is relying on the U.S. company’s Jeep Cherokee and revamped Chrysler 200 family sedan to fuel profit this year for the group. Chrysler’s strength in SUVs and pickups is helping as buyers coping with inclement weather are seeking vehicles with traction.

Chrysler said it sold 11,795 of its Cherokee sport-utility vehicle in its fifth month in the market, and 12,691 of its larger Grand Cherokee, helping the company to extend its streak of year-over-year sales gains to 47 consecutive months.

Chrysler today forecast a 15.8 million annualized industry sales pace for February, adjusted for seasonal trends and including medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, which typically account for at least 200,000 deliveries a year. Fiat said in January it would combine with the U.S. automaker to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which will be based in the Netherlands and list on the New York Stock Exchange.

LMC Automotive lowered its estimate last week for U.S. auto sales in February after retail transactions were weaker than anticipated, Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting, said in an e-mail. LMC now projects an annualized selling rate, adjusted for seasonal trends, of 15.5 million, down from an earlier estimate of 15.7 million.

U.S. Leaders

GM and Ford, the two biggest U.S. automakers, may report sales declines of 7.7 percent and 5.3 percent, according to the average estimates of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The analysts projected Toyota deliveries may have decreased 2.5 percent and Honda Motor Co. sales may have risen 0.3 percent, each the average of six analysts’ estimates.

Hyundai Motor Co. and affiliate Kia Motors Corp.’s combined deliveries probably rose 1.6 percent in February, the average of six estimates.

Volkswagen AG may report a 9.5 percent drop in combined February sales for the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company’s VW and Audi brands, the average of four estimates. VW canceled a planned call with journalists today because of “blizzard-like conditions” hitting the Washington area where the automaker’s U.S. office is located, the company said in an e-mail.

GM, Ford and Toyota -- the three largest automakers by U.S. sales -- each predict U.S. auto sales will top 16 million this year after growing by more than 1 million annually for the last four years. They totaled 15.6 million in 2013, the industry’s best annual result since 2007, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

Tesla Motors Inc., the electric-car maker that forecasts a global sales increase of more than 55 percent this year, doesn’t report U.S. sales on a monthly basis.

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