March auto sales: Ford up 5.7%, GM up 6.4%, Chrysler up 5% | Harold Zeigler Newsletter Grandville MI
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Date posted: April 12, 2013

March auto sales: Ford up 5.7%, GM up 6.4%, Chrysler up 5%

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler recorded single-digit-percentage sales increases in March as resilient consumers, gradual economic growth and a recovering housing market powered sales.

Ford said its U.S. sales increased 5.7% in March, or just under the robust expectations for the overall industry, as sales of the Ford Fusion midsize sedan topped 30,000 units and pickup sales surged.

General Motors reported a 6.4% sales gain for the month, buoyed by a 31% sales increase of crossovers, a whopping 49% increase for Cadillac and a 37% increase for Buick.

Chrysler said sales of its cars and trucks increased 5% in March as the automaker kept its streak of 36 consecutive year-over-year monthly sales increases alive.

Toyota reported a 1% sales increase. Sales of its popular Camry sedan fell 12% to 37,638 units, while the Corolla compact rose 23% to 31,380.

GM recorded an 8% increase for its most popular vehicle, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, and a 0.2% decrease for its sister truck, the GMC Sierra. Both trucks will be replaced with redesigned versions in the second quarter.

GM gained half a percentage point in market share to 17.7% in the first quarter, compared to a year earlier, said Kurt McNeil, vice president for U.S. sales.

“In summary, 2013 is off to a very strong start for General Motors on both a product and a market share basis,” McNeil said in a conference call. “We think it speaks to the economy getting stronger and American families getting back into the marketplace.”

Honda reported a 7.1% sales increase, including a 36% boost for the Accord sedan to 36,504 units.

Hyundai sales fell 2%. But after adding a third shift to its Alabama assembly plant, Hyundai’s Elantra recorded a 33% increase to 26,153 units, beating the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus.

March sales reflect strong consumer confidence despite wrangling in Washington over spending.

Analysts projected U.S. industry sales would increase by about 8%, translating into an annualized rate of more than 15.3 million vehicles, or about 6% more than the 14.5 million new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. last year.

Strong pickup truck sales mirrored the recovering housing market. Sales of Ford’s F-150 series, the most popular vehicle in the U.S., soared 16% to 67,513 units.

“We’re still seeing very, very strong sales in the pickup segment,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, in an interview.

Nissan said its sales increased 1% to 137,726 vehicles in March. Sales of its Altima midsize sedan fell 8% to 37,763 but topped the Toyota Camry in the industry’s ongoing mid-size car battle.

Sales of Nissan’s electric Leaf nearly quadrupled to 2,236, easily topping the Chevrolet Volt’s 1,478, which was down 35%.

Volkswagen said its sales increased 3.1% and marked the German automaker’s 31st month in a row of year-over-year sales increases.

Auburn Hills-based Chrysler faced a shortage of inventory on some models during March, especially for the Jeep brand. Still, Chrysler sold 171,606 new cars and trucks in the U.S. last month, the most of any month since December 2007.

“Chrysler Group has now achieved year-over-year sales gains in every month for the past three years,” Reid Bigland, Chrysler’s head of U.S. sales, said in a statement. “In spite of limited inventory last month on some of our most popular models, we also managed to record our strongest monthly sales since December 2007.”

Chrysler’s performance was led by its Ram and Dodge brands with sales increasing 24% and 15% respectively. Sales of the company’s Fiat brand rose 3% while Chrysler’s sales fell 2% and Jeep sales fell 13%.

The company sold more than 8,000 Dodge Darts in March, the most of any month since the compact car was launched last summer.

For GM, Chevy sales edged up 0.5%, but several vehicles posted sales declines for the month. Sales of the struggling Chevy Malibu fell 22% to 18,539, adding urgency to a forthcoming redesign confirmed last week by GM North America President Mark Reuss.

The company’s recently refreshed crossovers posted strong results. The Chevrolet Traverse rose 54% to 10,944, the GMC Acadia rose 77% to 10,006 and the Buick Enclave rose 55% to 5,676.

GM sold 3,003 units of the Buick Encore in the compact crossover’s second full month on the market.

The Cadillac ATS compact sedan, introduced in mid-2012, achieved its best month yet with sales of 3,587 units. The CTS, which will be replaced with a longer and more premium version in the fall, fell 38% to 2,791 units.

Edmunds.com expects March to be the biggest single month since 1,555,945 new cars and trucks were sold in May 2007. It is also the fifth consecutive month that the pace of car and truck sales in the U.S. will exceed 15 million.

“Car shoppers seem unfazed by fiscal issues in the news,” Lacey Plache, chief economist for Edmunds.com, said in a report. “Even though consumer confidence has been up and down so far this year, there are ‘wealth effects’ that are making Americans feel comfortable finally buying the new cars they’ve been waiting for.”

Plache said that many people are feeling wealthier thanks to rising home prices and the strong stock market. Also, the improving labor market has put additional cash in some buyers’ pockets. And credit has been loosening more and more since the recovery began, which is key to car sales.

LMC Automotive said the industry’s strong sales pace for the first three months of the year should set the tone for the full year.

“Building on the current performance, we expect the economic environment to improve throughout 2013, as the likelihood of a dark cloud slowing the recovery pace diminishes,” Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, said in a recent report. “Consumers do not appear phased by headwinds from Washington, as growth in auto sales are outperforming earlier expectations.”

 

Source: [Free P]


   
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