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U.S. Car Sales Reach Pre-Crash Levels

Still a long way to go to match prior peaks.

by on Mar.01, 2012

Ford doubled Focus sales last month.

U.S. car sales surged to their highest level in four years — reaching numbers not seen since the start of the industry’s worst downturn since the Great Depression.  Notably, there were no real losers during a month where analysts had anticipated a few manufacturers — notably GM — to turn in less than stellar performances.

A number of makers, in fact, posted records for the month, while Volkswagen reported its best sales in almost 40 years. Significantly, automakers saw average transaction prices, or ATPs — what consumers actually spend on a vehicle after incentives — surge by 7% while those givebacks fell 4% for the month, according to tracking service

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The strong showing, in a month when manufacturers collectively sold about 1.1 million new cars, light trucks and crossovers, suggests that recent studies are on target indicating a significant upturn in long-lagging consumer confidence.

“That in itself is probably a big green-light indicator for consumers,” said TrueCar analyst Jesse Toprak. “It’s telling them it’s OK to buy a car. You’ll be fine.”