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March U.S. auto sales on the rise

By August Cole, CBS.MarketWatch.com
Last Update: 3:31 PM ET April 1, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) -- U.S. auto sales rose last month, automakers said Thursday, a comparison colored by last year's run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Most industry watchers had expected sales to rise from February's levels, citing the improving economy and seasonal trends. See full story.

That momentum, including high-end models, is expected to continue through the spring and into early summer.

"Even as luxury car sales going forward benefit from a stronger U.S. stock market, lingering unemployment has left some new and used car customers of modestly priced vehicles out of the market until the second half of the year," said Paul Taylor, chief economist at the National Association of Auto Dealers, in an e-mail update. He still expects annualized sales of 16.8 million vehicles.

A year ago, sales fell in the month as the country girded for war ahead of the March 19 attack. See full story.

First up reporting March sales, Ford Motor (F: news, chart, profile) posted a 2.7 percent gain from last year to 310,565 vehicles, lifted by an 8.4 percent increase in trucks. Overall car sales fell 6.6 percent.

The company's most popular vehicles in March were the F-series trucks. Ford's luxury brands -- Jaguar, Volvo and Lincoln -- all reported higher sales.

Ford-affiliated Mazda said that it sold 37 percent more vehicles in March than it did last year for a total of 25,321. The company's new Mazda3 series was the most popular of its products.

General Motors (GM: news, chart, profile) said that its March U.S. sales rose 5.9 percent from last year to 414,949 vehicles as both car and truck sales increased. The company's new Chevrolet sedans did very well, as did Cadillac's sedans -- an important measure of the company's emphasis on its nontruck products.

Overall first-quarter sales rose 5 percent. The world's largest automaker also launched a new round of free financing on new trucks and aggressive cash discounts, as well.

Toyota Motor (TM: news, chart, profile) said Thursday that its March U.S. sales rose 5.5 percent to a record 174,209 vehicles -- with a cumulative 464,721 Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold during the first quarter, also a high. The most popular vehicle was the Camry sedan.

Chrysler Group said Thursday that U.S. sales in March were 2 percent lower than last year at 197,856 vehicles. Truck sales were flat and car sales dropped 10 percent.

Article Here

 

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very good news. Glad to see the increase in sales now that GM is starting to come down from its insentives.
 

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Originally posted by xellow@Apr 1 2004, 10:14 PM
This is good news for a change. Alright!
when was there bad news? Sales have been up for the past few months, where have you been?
 

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Originally posted by bigals87z28+Apr 1 2004, 10:31 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (bigals87z28 @ Apr 1 2004, 10:31 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-xellow@Apr 1 2004, 10:14 PM
This is good news for a change. Alright!
when was there bad news? Sales have been up for the past few months, where have you been? [/b][/quote]
Ive been around. Sales have been up sure, Maby for GM. did you stop and consider that the article was refering to the other US automakers who by the way may not have been doing as good? Its good news that the whole Domestic as one market is improving. Remember that sails have been down, down, down for Ford Until just recently. So remember I stand by my origonal statement:

This is good news for a change. Alright!
- Xellow
 

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if I read correctly, toyota and lexus topped Gm sales in march. That i find incredible. Perhaps the slipping of teh German reputation on quality has caused some "domestic-haters" to switch to the Asian market. And since toyota is probably the most european styled asian company (Nissan is as well), the buyers are choosing toyota. I am very surprised that the camry was still a top seller, since it ranked below the malibu in that car and driver comparison (i think it was car & driver at least). Glad to see the chevy sedans (malibu) and cadillac rose up, can't wait to see how the new pontiacs are going to boost Pontiac's numbers.
 

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I just wanted to correct the Toyota/Lexus sales numbers. They didn't go anywhere near outselling GM. The number you saw was for the entire first quarter.

"The company reported that a total of 464,721 of its Toyota and Lexus-branded vehicles sold during the first quarter, also a high."

Just wanted to clarify that for everyone. I was amazed when I read that and didn't think it could be true, and it's not.

The CTS just keeps getting better and better. I'm very happy to see this. They need to keep it up to date though so that the numbers don't fall. GM needs to show "import-haters" that it's serious. And if it consistently builds and redesigns top-quality, high-performance, comfortable vehicles, I think that can occur.
 

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good call with the correction, the article was poorly written and i wrote it at night. I was prayin toyota'lexus hadnt outsold GM. the camry still is poor too.
 

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Wait 'til the Malibu Maxx is selling at full speed, and the Equinox hits.

I predict the Malibus and the Equinox together could be good for a full extra point (150,000 units, that is) of the US market for GM.
 
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