Ford, GM, Chrysler sales down in March; Toyota, Mazda, Honda post big gains

Ford, GM, Chrysler sales down in March; Toyota, Mazda, Honda post big gains
Domestic auto makers continued their 2007 trend, posting lower sales figures today for March compared to the same period last year. March was the best sales month in 2006 for the industry.
General Motors Corp. said its voluntary reduction in sales to rental-car fleets helped account for its 4.2 percent March decline over last year. The automaker sold 349,867 vehicles in March, compared to 365,375 a year ago.
Ford, which also is withdrawing from the rental-car market, said overall U.S. sales were down 9 percent to 264,975 vehicles, compared to 291,146 a year ago.
The automaker's gains in the mid-size arena -- sales of its Fusion sedan were up more than 47 percent; Milan sales grew by 45 percent -- couldn't offset declines in the SUV and truck categories compared with March 2006.
Both companies said their new crossovers did well in March. Ford sold 10,915 of its Edge model and 3,054 of the Lincoln MKX. GM said its GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook contributed to its 235 percent crossover sales gain.
DaimlerChrysler AG today said March sales were down 4 percent over the same month last year despite a record number of vehicles sold by its Mercedes-Benz USA unit.
Chrysler Group sold 206,435 vehicles in March, down 5 percent from 216,412 in 2006. Mercedes sales were 21,612, up 1 percent from 21,417.
However, the auto maker said, sales of its mid-size Dodge Nitro SUV and Jeep Wrangler recorded their best months ever at 7,532 and 13,397 units respectively.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. said it sold a record 242, 675 vehicles in March, up 11.7 percent over 217,286 a year ago. The company reported a 133 percent increase in sales of its Prius hybrid sedan.
Meanwhile, Mazda North American Operations announced a 47.9 March sales increase in the United States, compared to 2006. Models recording double-digit gains include the Mazda3, RX-8, Tribute and B-Series truck.
The month was the best ever for Mazda in the U. S., breaking a 1994 sales record, the company said.
American Honda Motor Co. said it recorded its third-best month in history, selling 143,392 vehicles -- an 11.3 percent jump from 128,806 units last year.
Percentages are based on actual units sold; because there was one more selling day in March this year than in 2006, some auto makers also are reporting "adjusted" comparative numbers to smooth out the effect of the extra sales day.
Other car companies reporting U.S. sales today include:
Mitsubishi, which sold 12,536 units in March, up more than 22 percent from 10,250 in 2006.
Audi, which posted a 14.7 percent increase for March, selling 8,020 vehicles compared to 6,994 a year ago.
Volvo, down 4.4 percent with 10,666 units compared to 11,153 last year.
-- "I have tried to live my life so that my family would love me and my friends respect me. The others can do whatever the hell they please." John Wayne
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