The auto industry broke out of its winter doldrums during March as General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and Volkswagen all reported sales increases and for now set to rest fears that sales of new vehicles were beginning to fade.
GM, which also announced it would no longer report sales on monthly basis, reported its car, crossover and truck deliveries in the United States in March increased 16% year over year, driven by Buick’s best March since 2004, Chevrolet’s best March since 2007 and Cadillac’s best March since 2014. It was GMC’s best March in the brand’s history.
“March was an exceptional month for us. A growing economy and strong new products helped us execute a very successful plan to conquest customers from other brands,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president, Sales Operations. “Once customers purchase a GM product, they tend to stay in the family as we deliver an award-winning ownership experience that is hard to beat.”
Aided by a 45% increase in Jeep sales. FCA reported March sales increased 14% when compared with sales. Total sales were the highest since March 2006 when the company sold 216,865 vehicles.
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Jeep set an all-time sales record in March and fleet accounted for 25% of overall sale vehicles for its best month ever.
Ford reported a 3.4% sales increase and sales of Ford sport-utility vehicles set a new record, according to Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of sales, service and marketing. “March represented a strong start to the spring selling season for both Ford and the industry. We saw incredible demand for our trucks and SUVs,” LaNeve added.
Ford increased its fleet sales during March after they declined in January and February, but average transaction prices expanded $1,400 year over year or about twice the rate of the industry increase of $700.
Toyota Motor North America reported an increase of 3.5% from March 2017 even though sales of Lexus brand vehicles dropped 3.2%.
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“Strong Camry sales in March, combined with continuing record light truck results, paved the way to our best first-quarter in 10 years,” said Jack Hollis, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division. “With the all-new Avalon and Corolla hatchback on sale this spring, we’re heading into the second quarter with confidence that our sales momentum will continue.”
Volkswagen reported sales an increase of 17.8% over March 2017. With 83,952 units delivered year-to-date in 2018, the company is reporting a 10% increase in year-over-year sales.
Nissan Group said its sales declined 4% compared to the previous year as it continued to trim fleet sales.
The popularity of trucks and SUVs is also raising the average transaction price right across the board.
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“Most automaker transaction prices increased in March 2018 as the industry average rose 2%,” said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “Average transaction price growth was headlined by SUVs, particularly in the mid-size and full-size segments. Although fuel prices were up last month, SUV sales remain strong and new models like the Chevrolet Traverse and Lincoln Navigator helped elevate their respective segments,” Fleming said.