Staff, wire reports
March marked the best retail sales month for the Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze since the car's U.S. launch three years ago, General Motors officials announced Tuesday morning in their monthly sales conference call.
Retail buyers took delivery on about 20,100 Cruzes in March, shattering the monthly retail sales record of 17,100 for the small car set a year ago. Overall Cruze sales for March, including fleet buys, reached 23,260, up 7.7 percent from March 2012.
The small car's sales rebounded in March after light sales in January and February, which left the overall first quarter sales down slightly at about 2.4 percent when compared to first quarter 2012.
GM vice president of U.S. sales operations called the Cruze sales "outstanding," and noted, "Sales of smaller cars have been robust for some time. Trucks have improved in lockstep with the housing market and the strength of the crossover market signals that America's families are more confident about their financial health."
Industrywide, March is turning out to be the best month for auto sales in at least six years.
MARCH SALES: U.S. auto sales rose 3.4 percent to 1.45 million in March, their highest level since August 2007. Car sales fell slightly from last March but pickup truck sales jumped 14 percent.
BEHIND THE NUMBERS: Individuals and businesses need to replace aging vehicles they held on to during the recession. Low interest rates and enticing new vehicles are convincing them to buy.
In addition to GM, major automakers including Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Nissan all reported increases, with some reporting their best monthly totals since the start of the Great Recession in December of 2007.
Domestic automakers Ford and GM each rose about 6 percent, while Chrysler sales rose 5 percent compared with last March.
Toyota and Nissan each reported 1 percent sales increases, but Nissan said March was still the best month in company history. GM sold 245,950 autos in March, up 6.4 percent over this time last year; Chrysler sold nearly 172,000 cars and trucks, its best month since December of 2007; while Ford reported its best month since May of 2007 with sales of about 236,000. Toyota sold more than 205,000 cars and trucks in March, its highest total since August of 2009, when the government paid people to trade in their clunkers for new vehicles.
Industry analysts estimate that total March sales reached nearly 1.5 million cars and trucks, a number not seen since May 2007. Total U.S. sales are expected to be up 3 to 5 percent over March 2012.