Chrysler experienced best January in five years

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Chrysler's U.S. sales increased last month by 16 percent. The company expects auto sales to continue soaring in 2013.

The auto company estimates Americans hit an annual rate of 15.5 million in industry sales in January. It was the first major automaker to report sales on Friday.

Chrysler said it sold almost 118,000 cars and trucks in January. It was the company's best January in five years.

Analysts expect 2013 sales to reach up to 15.5 million. The company could sell 5 million more vehicles than it did in 2009, which was its worst year in three decades. The automaker's most recent sales peak was 17 million in 2005.

Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV sales increased only four percent.

However, Dodge Avenger sedans sales were up 69 percent. The midsize Chrysler 200 sales were up 26 percent, and the Dodge Journey crossover SUV sales nearly doubled. Chrysler sold over 20,000 Ram pickups, its top-selling vehicle. That meant a 14 percent sales increase.

If Chrysler holds the sales increase for the rest of the year, it should sell 1 million more vehicles than it did in 2012.

According to the auto pricing site Truecar.com, the auto industry spent less money on discounts last month than it did January 2012.

Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for industry consulting firm LMC Automotive, said car companies are looking to the U.S. to make up for slowing growth in emerging markets and falling sales in Europe.

There should be over 1 million sales this month, according to analysts.

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