DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC on Thursday said its U.S. vehicle sales in July rose 11 percent from a year ago, but the results fell short of analysts' projections.
Chrysler, a unit of Italy's Fiat SpA, posted sales of 140,102 vehicles. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected, on average, 146,275.
Total industry sales in July are expected to rise 14 percent to 16 percent, led by surging demand for full-size pickup trucks. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the annual sales rate in July to hit 15.8 million vehicles, which would be the second best performance of the year after June's 16 million.
Chrysler, the first U.S. automaker to report July results, said four of its five brands reported sales increases, led by Ram Truck with a gain of 31 percent.
The Dodge brand was up 18 percent, largely on the strength of the Durango utility vehicle and the Dart sedan.
The Fiat brand, which added the new 500L in July, rose 2 percent, as did the Jeep brand, which has yet to begin selling the new 2014 Cherokee.
The Chrysler brand slipped 4 percent as ebbing sales of its midsize 200 sedan and Town & Country van offset a modest increase in sales of the fullsize 300 sedan.
In June, new-car sales rose 9 percent, racing to the industry's strongest monthly pace since late 2007 as the stronger housing market drove demand for brawny pickups. Sales of big trucks have grown three times faster than the overall sector.
Strong demand for pickups is particularly good news for U.S. automakers, which dominate that sector and reap large profits from those vehicles. Chrysler launched a new version of its Ram pickup last fall, while General Motors Co started selling its redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks in June.
(Reporting by Paul Lienert and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by John Wallace)
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