01/04/2012 08:54 EST | Updated 03/05/2012 05:12 EST

Chrysler's US sales rise 26 per cent in 2011 on revamped models; notches strong December

DETROIT - Chrysler says its U.S. sales rose 26 per cent last year as its turnaround gained traction.

The company ended the year with a 37 per cent increase in December sales on strong demand for the Jeep Wrangler and Chrysler 200 sedan. Chrysler is among the first carmakers to report sales Wednesday.

Chrysler says it sold 1.37 million vehicles last year, about 284,000 more than in 2010. It has introduced 16 new or revamped models in the past two years.

Analysts expect December to be a strong sales month. Americans felt more confident about the economy and there was pent-up demand. Analysts expect sales of new cars and truck to reach around 12.7 million, up from 11.5 million in 2010.

Chrysler nearly ran out of cash in 2009 and needed government help to survive. It's majority owned by Italy's Fiat.