Automakers post healthy February sales gains

Led by Associated Industries of Missouri Circle of Elite Organizations member Ford Motor Company, automakers posted big U.S. sales gains in February as consumers returned to showrooms after a snowy January.

Ford’s sales rose 20 percent over last February.

Industry analysts had expected February sales to bounce back after a slight decline in January. Consulting firm LMC Automotive consulting firm predicts an 8.1 percent increase over a year ago to 1.36 million new vehicles. With an annual selling rate of 17.7 million cars and trucks, last month would be the best February in 16 years.

Automakers reported their monthly sales figures on Tuesday.

“Consumers seem to be shrugging off the volatility in the stock market and higher interest rates,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC. “Very low fuel prices and many new vehicles in showrooms should help drive another strong year for auto sales.”

LMC is predicting sales of 17.8 million new vehicles this year, up from 17.46 million last year.

Ford’s luxury Lincoln brand saw sales jump 30 percent after sales of its new MKX SUV more than doubled over last February. Sales of Ford’s best seller, the Claycomo made F-Series pickup, were up 10 percent. Ford sold 217,192 vehicles last month.

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