US auto sales in March hit their highest level since 2007, showing American consumers are indeed in a mood to go shopping. The housing recovery also helped automakers in the US, leading to an increase in sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles.
Chrysler had its best sales month since December 2007, mainly boosted by its Dodge brand, while Ford was also helped by its mainstay products, like the Ford Fusion sedan and Escape crossover. GM had its best March sales in five years, and its luxury Cadillac brand was up by almost 50% compared to the same period last year.
While European car sales continue to decline, Volkswagen posted more than a 3% increase in US sales. Some of the Japanese automakers, like Toyota and Nissan, posted smaller gains, but in the hyper competitive auto market, they were still touting those numbers as victories. Nissan said March was its best sales month ever in North America. Hyundai posted a rare decline in US sales, a 2% drop, but the Korean automaker said that’s compared to its best sales month ever last year in March.
The sales numbers show the US auto industry is in a sustainable recovery. As consumers put winter behind them, automakers are preparing for the usual slew of spring sales. The marketing campaigns, along with the launch of several new models, should produce steady traffic to dealer showrooms for the next several months.
The news is even better for luxury brands, which posted stronger gains than their mass market counterparts. BMW, Audi, and Lexus all reported double-digit percentage growth in sales. With several of them coming out with cars at the low end of the price spectrum, the luxury brands are poised also to draw in new customers as they increase sales.