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December auto sales falter; 2013 still best in six years PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP Auto Writers TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writers   
Friday, 03 January 2014 12:02

DETROIT (AP) — December U.S. auto sales slowed a bit from the brisk pace earlier this year, but automakers still were on target to finish 2013 with the best numbers in six years.

Chrysler managed a 6 percent gain for December, but General Motors, Toyota and Ford and Volkswagen each posted disappointing numbers. Still, most major automakers reported at least a 7 percent increase for 2013, and analysts expect full-year sales to be up around 8 percent to 15.6 million when all the numbers are in. That would be the highest sales figure since 16.1 million in 2007.

"The auto industry was a consistent bright spot in the economic recovery throughout 2013," Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president, said Friday in a statement. "We expect the economy will continue to gain strength in 2014, with car sales rising to pre-recession levels."

But analysts say discounts rose in December, and there were signs that automakers were beginning to lower prices to match competitors and woo customers. That could mean better deals in the coming year, especially on pickup trucks and midsize cars.

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Chrysler sales up 6 pct. as 2013 finishes strong PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 03 January 2014 09:42

DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler says its U.S. sales rose 6 percent last month, a sign that automakers closed 2013 with strong numbers.

The company sold just over 161,000 cars and trucks in December, up from about 152,000 a year ago.

Chrysler's Jeep brand finished 2013 up 3 percent with more than 490,000 sales. Jeep sales worldwide set a new record. The brand was led by the new Cherokee small SUV with 15,000 sales in December.

Industry analysts expect a total U.S. sales gain of about 4 percent in December and an annual gain of around 8 percent. Chrysler's sales rose 9 percent for the year. But the industry growth rate is expected to slow in 2014 to around 3 percent.

All automakers report sales on Friday.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Combi USA recalls more than 33,000 child seats PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 03 January 2014 11:59

DETROIT (AP) — Combi USA is recalling more than 33,000 child car seats made before January 2013 because the harnesses aren't strong enough to meet federal safety standards.

The Charlotte, N.C., company is recalling the Coccoro, Zeus Turn and Zeus 360.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the seat straps don't meet minimum strength requirements. If there's a crash, children may not be properly secured.

A company spokeswoman says the seats are still safe to use because the harness as a whole meets safety standards. She says one part of the harness that includes a plastic button failed strength tests. Seats made after January 2013 don't have the same problem.

Combi will notify registered owners and send out free harness replacement kits starting in February. Owners can contact Combi at (800) 543-7734.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Warning issued about oil shipped from North Dakota, Montana PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press   
Friday, 03 January 2014 07:29

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Following a string of explosive accidents, federal officials say crude oil being shipped by rail from the Northern Plains across the U.S. and Canada may be more flammable than traditional forms of oil.

A safety alert issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation warns the public, emergency responders and shippers about the potential high volatility of crude from the Bakken oil patch. The sprawling oil shale reserve is fueling the surging industry in eastern Montana and western North Dakota, which is now the nation's second-largest oil producer behind Texas.

Thursday's announcement from officials declares that the Bakken's light, sweet crude oil may be different from traditional heavy crudes because it is prone to ignite at a lower temperature. Experts say lighter crudes, which contain more natural gas, have a much lower "flash point" — the temperature at which vapors given off by the oil can ignite.

The government's warning comes after a huge explosion on Monday caused by a crude train derailment near Casselton, N.D. No one was hurt, but worries about toxic fumes prompted the evacuation of hundreds of residents from the small eastern North Dakota town.

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