January U.S. car sales by the three Detroit-based automakers topped analysts' expectations, as low gasoline prices and easy credit terms helped fuel sales of utility vehicles and big pickups.
Full-size trucks and SUVs are among the industry's most profitable vehicles. But some companies were having trouble supplying dealers with enough of those high-margin models in January.
GM said on Tuesday that January sales rose 18 percent to 202,786 vehicles, while Ford said sales were up 15 percent to 178,351. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected 201,436 and 173,431, respectively.
Fiat Chrysler's U.S. arm said January sales rose 14 percent to 145,007 vehicles, against analysts' expectations of 144,476.
"As the price of gasoline goes down, people want to buy bigger vehicles that go faster," said Mike Jackson, chief executive officer of AutoNation Inc. "That's just human nature."