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U.S. Carmakers, VW, Report Big Gains In Auto Sales For 2011

A Jeep Wrangler is seen at a dealership in Chicago. Powered by a newly designed fleet of vehicles, the brand saw a sharp rise in sales in 2011.
Scott Olson
Getty Images
A Jeep Wrangler is seen at a dealership in Chicago. Powered by a newly designed fleet of vehicles, the brand saw a sharp rise in sales in 2011.

America's big three automakers all experienced double-digit sales growth in 2011, helping the U.S. market continue its rebound from a dismal 2009. With annual reports out today, Chrysler says its sales were up 26 percent, while General Motors and Ford Motor Co. reporting gains of 13 and 11 percent, respectively.

Chrysler got a late boost in December, when its flagship brand saw a steep 83 percent rise in sales compared to the same year in 2010, according to The Detroit Free Press.

Analysts are predicting that when car makers are finished reporting their annual results this week, the U.S. market will have seen 12.7 million sales of cars and trucks in 2011. And the gains are expected to continue in 2012.

In terms of specific models, Chrysler's 200 and 300 sedans led the way. And it benefited from a spike in sales from its Jeep lineup, which gained 41 percent in 2011 compared to 2010. And Ford relied on its Fusion, Explorer and F-Series pickup truck to top 2 million in sales for the first time since 2007.

Volkswagen also saw a big rebound, saying that it "sold 324,402 of its VW brand vehicles in the U.S., a 26.3 percent gain over 2010 and its best year in America since 2002," reports The Los Angeles Times.

And despite severe disruptions to Japan's car industry due to an earthquake and tsunami, Nissan saw a 15 percent gain in 2011, reports The New York Times.

The higher sales figures mark the second straight year U.S. auto sales have risen since suffering a 30-year low in 2009, when dealers sold 10.4 million cars and trucks.

But it wasn't a rosy year for everyone in the auto industry.

The Chevrolet Volt didn't deliver on GM's expectations that it would sell 10,000 of the plug-in hybrids in 2011, missing that mark by more than 2,300 cars, thanks to concerns over its performance in a safety test.

And the good news from Chrysler stands in contrast to poor U.S. sales for its majority owner, Italy's Fiat, which missed its sales predictions for the Fiat 500 model, thanks in part to an early lack of U.S. dealers. Tracy Samilton reported on that story for today's Morning Edition.

You can see a complete table of automakers' sales results, with December and 2010-2011 figures, at Automotive News.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.