Auto industry sales on the up

2013-04-03 08:41

CHICAGO, Illinois - General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have reported their best US sales performances since 2007 and analysts have predicted the auto industry as a whole will rack up its biggest month in five years.

GM said it posted its best March performance since 2007 "thanks to a strengthening economy and new products" as sales rose six percent to 245 950.

Total sales would come in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.2-million once all automakers report, the fifth consecutive month with a sales pace of more than 15-million,


"Sales of smaller cars have been robust for some time," GM sales chief Kurt McNeil said. "Trucks have improved in step with the housing market and the strength of the crossover market signals that America's families are more confident about their financial health."

Chrysler said its sales rose five percent to 171 606 in March despite limited inventory of some of its best-sellers, among them Jeep and heavy-duty Ram trucks. It was the company's 36th consecutive month of gains in year-on-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 six percent to 236 160 in March.

Toyota sales rose one percent to 205 342 for the month and Bob Carter, head of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, said: "The auto industry continued its string of impressive monthly results. We had our best month since 'Cash for Clunkers' in August 2009.

"A strong first-quarter close and increased consumer confidence continue to position the auto industry as a leader in the economic recovery."

The strong sales come after years of painful restructuring and the collapse of demand following the 2008 financial crisis, which pushed General Motors and Chrysler into government-backed bankruptcy.

Automotive website edmunds.com forecast that total industry sales would rise 5.3% from March 2012 to nearly 1.5-million vehicles, the most numerically since May 2007 and a 24% more than February.

Since auto 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.

Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell forecast: "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.

"We're not quite back to pre-recession levels but the industry is getting closer to a full recovery every month."