At least that’s the news according to statistics released by the two American automakers. Chrysler said it sold 34 percent more vehicles this March, versus the same period last year, delivering some 161,381 cars and trucks, versus 121,730 in March 2011.
Jeep and Ram truck demand was particularly strong, with gains of 35 and 22 percent respectively. Ford said it had seen sales grow by some five percent with sales reaching 222,884 units last month versus 212,295 in March 2011.
Despite declines in Buick and Cadillac sales, General Motors said it had seen overall demand grow by 12 percent in March to 231,052 units, largely fuelled by sales of small cars. Don Johnson, GM’s vice president of US sales remarked that,”the economic recovery and a deep bench of fuel-efficient cars and crossovers have been driving our sales for more than a year, but the combined impact has never been stronger than it was in March.” The General said it sold a record 100,000 vehicles last month that get at least 30 miles per gallon on the highway.
A number of analysts believe the growth in auto sales last month can be partly attributed to this year’s unseasonably mild winter, which had consumers flocking to dealers earlier than the traditional spring selling season; other factors include a plethora of new models hitting the streets as well as lower unemployment statistics and easier access to credit for many.
Many industry observers are keeping a close eye on gas prices to see if they have an effect on auto sales this year; as currently they’re around the $4.00 gallon mark, traditionally seen as the tipping point which consumers change their car buying and driving habits.
Nonetheless, the outlook remains generally optimistic. “Barring any future shock related to geopolitical issues in the gulf region and further upward pressure on the price of oil, we believe sales will continue on a solid pace for the balance of the year, said John Humphrey” J.D. Power and Associates senior vice president of global operations.