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February 1, 2019 12:00 PM, EST

Fiat Chrysler Sales Miss Estimates

Frigid Weather a Factor, Executive Says
Fiat Motors Factory Sean Proctor/Bloomberg News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV reported a smaller U.S. deliveries gain than expected, as frosty temperatures across much of the country dragged on demand even for the hot-selling Jeep SUV brand.

Sales rose 2.5% in January, according to a company statement, missing analysts’ average estimate for a 5% jump. The only brand to grow for the month was Ram, with a 24% surge in truck and van deliveries.

“In spite of some frigid January weather, we remain bullish on 2019 given the continued underlying strength of the U.S. economy,” Reid Bigland, Fiat Chrysler’s head of U.S. sales, said in the statement.

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The annualized industry sales rate may have slowed to 16.9 million cars and light trucks in January, from 17.1 million a year ago, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Most analysts expect the market to decline in 2019 as interest rates rise and make it more difficult for consumers to afford ever-costlier new vehicles.

Frigid temperatures forced Fiat Chrysler and General Motors Co. to idle several plants this week to ration gas consumption. Temperatures fell to minus-12 Fahrenheit in Detroit Jan. 31, with the wind chill making it feel as low as minus-33, according to the National Weather Service. The two automakers resumed operations at most facilities Feb. 1.