DETROIT — Automakers said Friday that sales of new vehicles cooled in December, but not enough to diminish solid overall gains the industry made in 2013.
Industry executives estimated that sales for the month rose about 3 percent from levels a year ago. While sales started slowly in December, the executives said that showroom traffic picked up considerably after the Christmas holiday.
Still, the month capped the industry’s best overall year since 2007, as US consumers and businesses kept a steady pace of replacing older cars and trucks with new models.
For all of 2013, automakers sold more than 15.5 million vehicles in the United States, an increase of about 7 percent from the previous year.
Kurt McNeil, head of US sales for General Motors Co., the largest American automaker, called 2013 “the year that GM and the auto industry put the last traces of the recession in the rearview mirror.”
GM and the other Detroit automakers, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group, reported mixed results for December.
GM said it sold 230,000 new cars and trucks in the month, a 6.3 percent decline from the same period a year ago.
But for the year, GM reported an overall gain of 7.3 percent in sales, to 2.69 million vehicles, and said that all four of its brands — Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC — improved their retail market shares.
The company’s top performers for the year were some of its freshest products, like the Cadillac ATS luxury sedan and the Chevrolet Spark minicar.
Sales of GM’s best-selling model, the Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup, increased about 15 percent in 2013, partly because of increased housing starts and other construction activity.
Ford, the second-largest domestic manufacturer, said that it sold 218,000 new vehicles in December, a 1.8 percent increase over a year ago. Ford sold 2.49 million vehicles in the United States in 2013, a 10.8 percent increase over the year before.
Chrysler, which is part of the Italian automaker Fiat, said it sold 161,000 vehicles in December, a 6 percent increase from a year ago. For the year, it reported a 9 percent increase.