New reports show that auto sales remained brisk in March, hovering near the four-year high numbers seen in February. It is yet another sign of an improving economy and a thriving auto industry.
Kia the most improved
Kia Motors America showed the most improvement, making March its best month yet for U.S. sales. The South Korea-based automaker moved 50,000 units, for a 31.8 percent gain from March of last year.
GM takes ‘green’ prize
General Motors set a record in the “green” department for the month. It became the first U.S.-based car maker to sell more than 100,000 cars that deliver 30 mpg or better on the highway. Fuel-efficient models made up about 40 percent of the world’s largest automaker’s domestic sales, according to GM’s president, Mark Reuss. The automaker’s total U.S. sales for March were 231,052 vehicles, a 12 percent rise from March 2011.
Don Johnson, General Motor’s U.S. sales chief, said:
“The good news is that the industry and consumers have been very resilient. Consumers are driving less, and there are many more desirable vehicles in the market that get good gas mileage.”
Ford and Chrysler going strong
Ford also set record sales for its fuel-efficient electric Focus. Ford moved 28,562 Focus units in the U.S. last month, its best ever, with an increase of 78 percent over last year. All in all, Ford’s U.S. sales were up five percent, f0r a total of 223,418 vehicles sold. That was the automaker’s best month in five years.
Chrysler’s U.S. sales rose by 34 percent, with a total 121,730 units moved. It was the automaker’s best showing since 2008.
Toyota’s best since 2008
Toyota’s U.S. division reported an increase of 11.2 percent in U.S. sales, its best in four years.
Jeff Bracken, vice president of Toyota Division sales, said:
“Toyota dealers had their best-selling month outside of Cash for Clunkers since the pre-recession days of August 2008. Camry and Prius also continue to shine as both set records, including Camry’s best March ever and an all-time high for Prius sales.”
Cash for Clunkers was a $3 billion federal program that offered incentives for taxpayers to trade in their old gas-guzzling cars for new, more fuel-efficient models.
BMW’s best US quarter
BMW AG in the U.S. boasted its best quarterly figures ever, selling 75,729 vehicles. That figure also includes U.S. sales of the automaker’s Mini division. It is a 13 percent improvement from quarter one, 2011.
Ludwig Willisch, head of BMW of North America, said:
“The First Quarter record affirmed our increasing sales momentum and shows that customers feel more confident about the future. The year is still young and BMW alone will introduce in 2012 more new and refreshed models in the U.S. than it ever has before in any one year making us strongly optimistic about the months ahead.”
VW, Nissan, Hyundai
Volkswagen reported selling 94,400 cars in march. Nissan had its best month ever, with 136,317 units sold. Hyundai gained 13 percent from its sales last year.
Honda reports losses
Only Honda seems to still lag behind, after losing the most of any automaker in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake disasters. The Japanese automaker lost 5 percent of sales from last year. Honda was quick to point out, however, that March 2011 was an unusually strong one for U.S. sales.
Canadian sales continue to rise
Sales increases in Canada show that the trend is not limited to U.S. shores. Canadian auto sales were up for the third month in a row in March. Ford moved the most units of any automaker in Canada last month.