Thu, Apr 04, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Sales of top three US automakers hit six-year high

AFP, CHICAGO

General Motors (GM), Ford and Chrysler reported their best US sales performances since 2007 on Tuesday amid booming overall auto demand following the US industry’s near-collapse five years ago.

Total industry sales rose 3.4 percent from March last year and came in at a seasonally adjusted, annual pace of 15.3 percent, according to Autodata.

That’s down slightly from February, but means the industry has now racked up five consecutive months with a sales pace of more than 15 million vehicles.

Since sales vary significantly from month to month because of traditional shopping patterns, seasonal sales and product launch schedules, analysts focus on the seasonally adjusted sales pace.

“We’re not quite back to pre-recession levels, but the industry is getting closer to a full recovery every month,” Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell said. “As long as the auto industry continues this string of 15-plus million [sales pace] every month, there won’t be any shortage of optimism.”

GM said it posted its best March performance since 2007 “thanks to a strengthening economy and new products” as sales rose 6 percent to 245,950 vehicles.

Chrysler said its sales rose 5 percent to 171,606 vehicles last month despite limited inventory of some of its best-selling models, including Jeep and heavy-duty Ram trucks.

It was the company’s 36th consecutive month of gains in year-over-year sales, and the strongest sales for any month since December 2007.

Ford posted its best performance for any month since May 2007 as sales rose 6 percent to 236,160 vehicles last month.

Meanwhile, Toyota sales rose 1 percent to 205,342 units last month.

Honda sales rose 7 percent to 136,038 units while Nissan saw its sales rise by 1 percent to 137,726 vehicles.

South Korean automakers bucked the positive trend, with Kia down 15 percent at 49,125 and Hyundai down 2 percent at 68,303.

Volkswagen, which has been aggressively expanding in the US, marked its 31st consecutive month of gains and its strongest March in 40 years as sales rose 3 percent to 37,704 vehicles.

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