US car sales spring back from winter low

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Carmakers last week reported US sales gains in March, pointing to a spring rebound from weakness in the prior two months that were hammered by severe winter weather.

A total 1.54 million vehicles were sold in the US in March, an increase of 5.7 percent from March 2013, according to industry specialist Autodata.

General Motors, the largest US carmaker, said total sales rose 4 percent in March from a year ago, to 256,047 vehicles. GM retail sales were up 7 percent in March, offsetting a 5-percent drop in fleet sales that was due to a planned reduction in deliveries.

The report came as GM chief executive Mary Barra testified to Congress in a hearing over why the company ignored a faulty ignition problem for a decade despite numerous accident reports and 13 deaths.


Analysts have speculated the trouble could cost the company billions of dollars in penalties and damages, in addition to the costly vehicle recalls.

Ford, the number-two US carmaker, said total sales in its home market rose 3 percent in March year-over-year, to 244,167 vehicles.

Chrysler, which was fully acquired by Fiat in January, posted a robust 13-percent year-over-year increase in US March sales to 193,915 units. The unit of Milan-based Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has clocked in 48 consecutive months of year-over-year sales gains in the US.

Fiat brand sales leaped 24 percent in March, the best sales month since the Italian auto brand returned to the US market in 2011.

Toyota sold 215,348 units, an increase of 8.9 percent from a year ago. The world’s leading carmaker said that March capped a first-quarter sales gain despite an unusually harsh winter.

Rival Nissan said US sales jumped 8.3 percent to 149,136 vehicles, its best month ever. Honda said March sales fell 2 percent from a year ago, to 133,318 vehicles. Hyundai reported a 1.9-percent fall in sales, to 67,005 units. Volkswagen sold 36,717 units, down 2.6 percent from March 2012.

AFP

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