March sales rebound as winter ends, sales rise 5.6%

March sales rebound as winter ends, sales rise 5.6%

Dealers and other observers in the auto industry breathed a sigh of relief as March sales chalked up a 5.6 percent gain from a year earlier. The late-month surge as the weather improved in many parts of the country exceeded analystsê expectations. The industryês resilence and relative strength in a persistently touch-and-go economy appears to be solidly in place.

Asian manufacturers held the biggest share of the market at 46 percent; next was the Detroit 3, at 45 percent; with Europeans at 8.7 percent. Trucks and luxury brands sold especially well in March.

Chrysler Group saw the biggest gain for the month at 13 percent. The new Jeep Cherokee led sales, and Dodge Ram sales spiking 26 percent; both brands were helped by generous incentives. Nissan Motor Co. saw the next biggest increase, up 8 percent; General Motors was up 5 percent (despite recall problems); Toyota, up 4 percent; and Ford, up 3 percent.

Ford generated record sales for the Fusion and the F-series delivered impressive sales numbers, as always. –March sales turned noticeably higher mid-month and finished strong,” John Felice, Fordês vice president for U.S. marketing, said in a statement.

Incentives were up across the board. Average transaction prices were up from a year ago, but down slightly from February, according to estimates from TrueCar and Kelley Blue Book. Analystsê interpretations of the numbers vary.

–Consumers continue to be unmotivated despite [year-over-year] increases in incentives,” TrueCar Executive Vice President Larry Dominique told WardsAuto. But Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said, –The increase in prices has been enough to offset rising incentive spending, and consumers have consistently shown they are willing to spend top dollar for the best models available,” WardsAuto reports.

The top 10 selling vehicles for the month, according to, were the Ford F-Series; Dodge Ram; Chevrolet Silverado; Toyota Camry; Nissan Altima; Honda Accord; Ford Fusion; Toyota Corolla and Matrix; Ford Escape; and Honda CR-V.

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