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Winter weather didn't dampen January auto sales

Posted on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 2:26:42 PM

Despite a massive snowstorm on the East Coast and fewer selling days than last year, January auto sales were better than expected. Low gas prices, an improving economy and easy access to credit all helped to bolster the auto industry last month, leading two of the three big automakers to report higher sales from one year ago. 

Edmunds.com forecasted that 1.14 million new cars and trucks would be sold in the U.S. in January for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17.5 million. 

"As expected, Winter Storm Jonas limited car sales from reaching their full potential, especially for import brands, which are traditionally popular in East Coast markets," said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analytics for Edmunds.

"But weather factors aside, this was still a pretty good month for car sales. The January sales rate typically falls on the low end of the curve every year, so if historic patterns hold we're off to a healthy start for 2016," Caldwell continued. 

Reuters reported that while Ford Motor Co's sales fell 2.6 percent - largely as a result of Winter Storm Jonas - they were still slightly better than projections called for. General Motors Co, meanwhile, said its sales were up 0.5 percent last month. 

Given the popularity of auto financing and the unfading strength of factors like cheap gasoline, GM reported that it continues to be optimistic about auto sales in 2016.