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October auto sales: GM gains, but Chrysler soars

Chrysler's January Sales Up 8 Percent, Lead By Jeep And Ram TrucksChrysler's January Sales Up 8 Percent, Lead By Jeep And Ram Trucks

Car manufacturers posted their October sales Monday, and two of the so-called “Big Three” U.S. carmakers posted positive sales growth — though for one, it was just barely.

General Motors (GM) moved 226,819 units last month, up slightly from the same period last year (when it sold 226,402 vehicles) and registering its best October since 2007. Fiat-owned Chrysler, meanwhile, sold 170,480 units, up a massive 22% from 140,083 in the same month a year ago.

Larry Dominique, executive vice president for industry solutions at TrueCar, said that Chrysler’s success was largely on the back of its Jeep line. This is a segment with limited growth, though, and Dominique thinks Chrysler needs to get growth in other areas to continue an upward trajectory.

“Jeep is limited on its upside,” he said. “They really need the Chrysler brand and the Dodge brand to really start making some moves.”

GM’s numbers will likely be seen as disappointing. Seeking Alpha notes that it was expected that the company’s sales would increase by more than 2% year over year, instead of remaining essentially flat.

Ford (F), meanwhile, saw sales dip 2%, selling 188,654 vehicles in October. This was not unexpected, though, as Ford is currently undergoing plant changeover as it gears up to announce the 2015 F-150 truck, expected to be a major sales driver in the next year.

In recent years, consumers have gravitated toward SUVs and crossovers because they wanted a more functional car, Dominique said. Now that manufacturers are making crossovers that are also visually appealing and get decent mileage, he thinks this is “a segment that’s going to be hard to shift back.”

Foreign automakers reported as well. Nissan sold 103,117 units, up 13.7% year-over-year. Toyota (TM) sold 180,580, up 6.9%. Volkswagen moved 30,313, up 7.8%.

Total sales for October finished at 1.3 million units sold according to Ward’s Auto.