While March delivered more good news for the auto industry, General Motors took an unexpected shot from its cross-town rival, Ford Motor Co. outselling the domestic giant for only the second time since 1998.
More significantly, Ford was able to best its Big Three rival without GM being crippled by bankruptcy. When the tables were turned, in February 2010, General Motors was still struggling to dust itself off after emerging from Chapter 11 protection the previous summer.
The race was nonetheless close, Ford dealers reporting sales of 212,777 cars, trucks and crossovers last month, a 19% gain, compared to 206,621 for GM, which was up 11%.
But GM still had some numbers to crow about. For the full first quarter, its sales totaled 592,545, compared to 496,720 for Ford.
Meanwhile, GM officials stressed that their retail business grew by 17% in March – and 38% for the entire quarter — a key measure for industry watchers, as sales to individual motorists tend to yield higher profits than fleet business, especially daily rental companies.