March Car Sales Mark Best Month Since 2007


Automakers enjoyed their best sales month since August 2007, with March car sales totaling 1.45 million vehicles. That resulted in a 3-percent increase from last March and a 22-percent rise from February. March typically posts the second most sales of the year behind May, although last year March sales surpassed those in May.

For this March, the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of sales came in at 15.3 million vehicles, marking the fifth consecutive month of a mid-15 million SAAR and the 13th consecutive month of 1 million-plus sales.

The same old factors remained in place in March along with some additional ones to fuel sales. The overall economy is improving and so is employment. Pent-up demand continues to unleash with the average age of cars and trucks on American roads still at 10 years plus, the oldest in history. Credit is readily available to a wider array of consumers of varying credit worthiness, and financing is cheap due to low interest rates. In March, Edmunds.com's Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell noted the percentage of vehicles financed through leasing increased significantly.

The "wealth factor" also is driving higher vehicle sales. Housing values have reversed direction and are climbing. The stock market has soared to new highs, beefing up individual portfolios. Construction and housing are rebounding, causing buyers to purchase new pickup trucks. "In addition, many people have refinanced their home mortgages, which Edmunds.com estimates on an average mortgage could save a homeowner $210 per month and make room in the budget for a new car payment," said Edmunds.com Chief Economist Lacey Plache, Ph.D.

Much of March's strength came from the pickup truck market, which directly correlates to construction and housing starts. Sales of car-based utilities also were strong. "Trucks have improved in lockstep with the housing market, and the strength of the crossover market signals that America's families are more confident about their financial health," said Kurt McNeil, General Motors vice president of U.S. sales operations.

The midsize car segment, now the No. 1 volume segment, heated up further in March with Nissan Altima overtaking the Toyota Camry for the top sales spot. A tight sales race is brewing among the top contenders. March always sees a flurry year-end close-out activity as the Japanese automakers close their books on their fiscal years on March 31. This year, in addition to Altima zooming past Camry, Nissan outsold Honda.

Clearly another factor driving March car sales are compelling new models. What's new is hot. Hot new models include the Ford Fusion and Escape, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Volkswagen Beetle, Chrysler's Ram 1500, Buick Encore, Cadillac ATS.

What did not drive March car sales were beefy incentives. New car incentives in March fell 1.7 percent overall from February to an average of $2,357, according Edmunds.com's True Cost of Incentives (TCI) report. Year over year, incentives were up 11.3 percent in March. Nissan (+9.9%) had the highest month-over-month increase in spending, while GM (-8.3%) had the sharpest decrease. As is typical, Honda spent the least.

Car Sales

More sales growth is likely. Edmunds.com boosted its 2013 sales forecast to 15.5 million vehicles from about 15 million due to all of the old and new factors in place in addition to the resilience of the American consumer. The fiscal cliff, the sequester and financial news from overseas have not had any noticeable impact on car shopping trends in 2013 — so far. Edmunds.com's Plache cautions that any drama at home or abroad that rocks the stock market or dominates news headlines could deter some car shoppers.

The picture is bright even beyond 2013. "Sales per driver and vehicles per driver will remain below pre-recession levels even with 2013 sales of 15.5 million cars, so there is room for even more improvement in 2014 and beyond," said Plache. "Automakers and car dealers with the right products and branding messages are looking at a great growth opportunity."

Further out, Gen X, the biggest population bubble since the recession, has yet to come into the automotive market in the numbers that had been predicted. Their entry has been delayed by high unemployment and under employment coupled with hefty college debt. An economic recovery may lead to improvement in their employment situation, causing them to start forming households — and buying cars.

March Car Sales

GENERAL MOTORS: GM sold 245,950 vehicles in the United States in March, up 6 percent from last March. It was GM's best March sales in five years. GM said its retail sales increased 4 percent, and fleet sales rose 12 percent, with fleets representing 27 percent of GM's total March sales. GM said small business sales, included in retail sales, climbed 32 percent to almost 15,000 units, helped by a stronger housing market.

By vehicle segment, GM's gains came from crossovers, up 31 percent; full-size pickups sales rose 6 percent and car sales fell 3 percent. Three of GM's four vehicle divisions — Buick, Cadillac and GMC — posted double-digit gains. Chevrolet sales were flat.

Cadillac, which transformed its model line last year with the addition of the entry-level ATS and the flagship XTS, reported sales of 15,751 vehicles, a nearly 50-percent sales increase from last March, before its new flagship XTS hit the market in June and entry-level ATS went on sale in late summer. ATS had its best sales month yet with 3,587 sold. XTS chipped in 3,061. SRX had a 5-pecent gain. CTS, which is in sell-down mode to make way for the totally revamped model later this year, had a 38-percent decline.

Buick sales rose 37 percent to 18,007 vehicles, largely on the strength of two new models and the freshening of another. The revised Enclave crossover posted a 55-percent hike to 5,676 vehicles sold; it is Buick's volume leader. The just-on-sale Encore crossover had sales of 3,003 units; the Verano had a 43-percent gain to 3,564 vehicles. Sales of the LaCrosse, about to go on sale in freshened form, had a 2-percent slip in sales. Sales of the Regal, also getting a makeover this year, were off a hefty 39 percent.

GMC reported sales of 38,333 vehicles, a 12-percent gain, mostly due to a 77-percent increase in sales of the Acadia at 10,006 units, a model freshened this year.

Chevrolet saw a mixed bag of results with overall sales even with a year ago at 173,859 vehicles. Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado, in sell-down mode to make way for the new model coming in the second quarter, edged 8 percent higher. The freshened Traverse crossover posted a 55-percent gain to 10,944 vehicles sold. On the car side, the heavily incentivized Cruz, which is re-done next year, had an 8-percent sales rise. Sales of the brand-new Malibu and Sonic fell double digits. The new spark kicked in 3,538 units of sales. Volt sales fell 35 percent to 1,478 units. GM said the Volt drop had to do with fleet sales.

March Car Sales

FORD: Ford Motor Co. sales in March were 236,160 vehicles, a gain of 6 percent compared with March, 2012. Although Ford (combined with the Lincoln luxury brand) car sales were flat compared with last March, utility-vehicle sales were up by 16 percent and truck sales climbed 6 percent as several models throughout the lineup had robust sales.

Despite the overall flat performance of the car portion of its model range, the new-generation Fusion midsize sedan had its best-ever sales month in March, Ford said, selling 30,284 units for a 6-percent hike. Incentives on the Fusion have been edging up, noted Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell.

The smaller Focus may be feeling some of consumers' attraction to the chiseled new 2013 Fusion, as Focus sales were off 12 percent in March, to a still-healthy 24,929 deliveries. The new C-Max wagon generated 3,769 incremental sales, while the up-and-down Fiesta subcompact enjoyed a 3.5-percent gain on 6,728 sales. The Mustang was off 15 percent at 7,688 units, and the Taurus was flat at just 7,003 sales.

The Escape compact crossover broke out to a giant total of 28,934 sales in March, a 28-percent hike that was exceeded by the Explorer's 33-percent increase on 17,509 sales, its best-ever month since the current model's debut in 2010; for the first quarter, Explorer sales were up 45 percent. The Edge midsizer was down 13 percent in March, however, to 12,237 sales and the fading Flex dove 35 percent to 2,167 sales.

March was another huge month in a string of huge months for the F-Series pickup line, as Ford said the F-Series' performance continues to reflect the gathering recovery of the economy. While some might still debate that link and its underlying assumptions, there's no questioning the F-Series' March sales of 67,513 — a 16-percent gain — is moving the pickup back to the kind of numbers it posted prior to the recession. Perhaps supporting the idea of truck sales as an indicator of ongoing economic recovery, Ford's Transit Connect van was up 23 percent in March and sales for the first quarter were up 40 percent.

Ford's Lincoln luxury-vehicle unit has yet to share in the good times, however. Sales for the month slid 23 percent to 6,825 units — one tenth of F-Series sales — and Lincoln's sales were down 24 percent for the first three months. Sales for every Lincoln model declined for the month, led by big drops for the brand's best-seller, the MKZ (down 20 percent to 2,360 sales) and the MKS flagship, which enticed just 924 buyers in March, a 45-percent plunge.

On Ford's March sales call, executives defended the MKZ, which has been shipped from the assembly plant in Mexico to Ford's Flat Rock, Mich., for quality inspection, thus holding up inventory to dealerships. Ford officials said the daily sales rate for the MKZ doubled in the last third of March compared with the middle third of the month and is at a 14 days to turn, the time from a vehicle arriving at a dealership until it is sold. The hybrid version is at eight days to turn. Ford says of the early MKZ buyers, 45 percent are new to the Lincoln brand, a higher percentage than the automaker expected. About 54 percent are under 60 years old and 28 percent are under 50.

March Car Sales

TOYOTA: Toyota Motor Sales, which includes the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands, reported sales of 205,342 vehicles, up 1 percent from a year ago. The automaker said March was its best month since Cash for Clunkers August 2009. Toyota also claimed it was No. 1 for retail sales with all three brands combined.

Toyota Division posted March total sales of 182,152 units, flat from a year ago. Lexus sales rose 15 percent to 23,190 vehicles. Scion sales dropped 5 percent.

At Toyota, the revamped Avalon posted a 110-percent gain to 6,982 vehicles sold. Corolla sales were up 11 percent to 31,423 vehicles. Camry sales fell 12 percent from its extremely lofty perch of a year ago to a still hefty 37,663 units. Prius sales were off 23 percent to 22,140 vehicles; Yaris sales were down 33 percent. On the truck side, healthy sales hikes came from: Sienna minivan, sales up 18 percent to 12,062 units; Tacoma, up 21 percent; Tundra, up 8 percent; and 4Runner sales up 13 percent. Sales of the RAV4, Toyota's best-selling "truck," were down 5 percent to 16, 474 units.

Lexus' volume leaders led the way for the luxury marque. RX sales rose 29 percent to 9,072 units; ES sales soared 116 percent to 6,798 vehicles. Flagship LS sales rose 71 percent to 980 units. Lexus hybrid sales hit 3,617 vehicles, up 7 percent.

At Scion, every vehicle posted a sales decline, except the FR-S sports car, which wasn't on the market last March.

March Car Sales

CHRYSLER: Chrysler Group reported March sales of 171,606 units, a 5-percent increase from March last year, for the automaker's best monthly sales since December 2007.

By brand, Dodge, Ram Truck and Fiat posted sales gains. Ram Truck posted the biggest sales gain at 24 percent of any Chrysler brand in March, its best March since 2007. The Ram 1500, vastly revamped last fall, had a 25-percent sales increase for an all-time monthly sales record of 33,831 vehicles sold.

Dodge sales rose 15 percent for the brand's best March since 2007. The Dodge Dart small car set a sales record of 8,091 cars sold, up 5 percent from February. The Dart was not on sale last March. Dodge Avenger sales rose 33 percent to a new record of 12,439 cars. Dodge Challenger also set a new sales record with sales up 42 percent to 6,132 units. Dodge Durango, which will be replaced with a new 2014 model, had its best March sales since 2005 at 5,441 units. Reporting lower sales than a year ago were Charger, down 3 percent; Journey off 5 percent, and Caravan minivan 19 percent lower.

Chrysler brand sales dipped 2 percent to 33,905 units, mostly due to a 22-percent plummet by the 300 and a 7 percent decline in Town & Country minivan sales. A 11-percent increase in 200 sales could not offset the declines.

Fiat sales rose 3 percent for a new March sales record of 3,807 vehicles. Jeep sales, which have led Chrysler's recovery, were down 13 percent to 39,469 units, largely due to the elimination of the Liberty in the line. It will be replaced shortly with the all-new Jeep Cherokee. Sales of the Grand Cherokee, just going into production in its new version, were off 10 percent to 12,629 units. The revamped Jeep Compass set a March sales record with sales up 28 percent to 5,111 units. Jeep Wrangler sales rose 3 percent to 12,901 units, for the SUV's best March since 2007. Jeep Patriot sales rose 8 percent to 7,420 vehicles, its best March since 2008.

March Car Sales

NISSAN: Nissan North America, which includes the Nissan and Infiniti brands, closed out the fiscal year that ended March 31 by setting a new monthly sales record. The automaker reported sales of 137,726 vehicles, up 1 percent from last year's former record-holding March. Nissan outsold Honda, an unusual occurrence.

Nissan brand posted its highest volume month ever with 126,623 deliveries, up 0.4 percent. Infiniti deliveries totaled 11,103, up 9 percent from last March.

The volume-leading Nissan Altima led the way with sales of 37,763 cars, surpassing Toyota Camry as the best-selling car in America, even though sales were down 8 percent from last March's blistering, fleet-induced pace. Nissan said Altima sales came from higher retail and lower fleet sales than the year before.

Nissan Leaf sales soared 286 percent to 2,236 units. March marked the first full month of deliveries of the lower-priced 2013 Leaf, now produced at Nissan's assembly plant in Smyrna, Tenn. The new Nissan Pathfinder saw sales soar 177 percent to 9,071 vehicles for a new March record. Also setting a new March record was the Versa, up 2 percent to 15,917 vehicles, making it the best-selling subcompact again in March. Nissan NV sales totaled 1,290 vehicles, the best month ever for the commercial vans. Titan and Frontier truck sales as well as Xterra sales were up double digits. Sales of the quest minivan, Murano and Rogue crossovers, and Armada SUV were down. Nissan sports car sales were down as were sales of the Cube, Juke and Maxima. Sentra sales were flat.

Infiniti sales were up 9 percent, solely on the strength of its JX 7 crossover, launched a year ago. March sales totaled 2,633 units, up 387 percent from a year ago. The rest of Infiniti's line reported sales declines.

March Car Sales

HONDA: American Honda posted 136,038 sales in March, a 7-percent gain compared with March, 2012, as sales for the new-generation Accord midsize sedan continued as the engine for Honda's sales momentum and the Acura brand also maintained a modest resurgence led mostly by its crossover models.

In March, the Accord connected for a hefty 36,504 sales — a plump 36-percent hike compared with last March and a number attributable to fully a quarter of Honda's total sales for the month. Add in the compact Civic's 27,665 sales — despite Civic's 2-percent decline — and the two models accounted for 46 percent of Honda's March sales.

Good thing the Accord and Civic are such evergreen favorites, as Honda's newer passenger-car efforts have left buyers less convinced. Sales for the Insight hybrid sedan dwindled to just 454 in March (a 56-percent plunge from already miniscule numbers) and the CR-Z hybrid coupe fared little better, dropping 16 percent to 451 deliveries. Sales for Honda's aging subcompact Fit held their own at 4,602 in March, a 1-percent gain.

Honda's crossover models produced mixed results in March. The usually strong CR-V compact experienced a rare off month, although its 26,897 sales (a 13-percent slide) could never be considered lackluster. Offsetting the sting from the CR-V's drop (could Toyota's all-new RAV4 be the culprit?), the Pilot midsizer was up 11 percent on 11,207 sales. The Odyssey minivan nearly matched the Pilot with 10,923 sales, although the number marked a 2-percent slide. Honda's niche-appeal Crosstour wagon and Ridgeline midsize pickup both were up for the month; the Ridgeline jumped 41 percent on 1,712 sales and the Crosstour's 1,522 deliveries was a 12-percent gain.

For the Acura premium-vehicle division, total sales in March were 14,100. Leading as the brand's best-seller was the still surging RDX compact crossover, where 3,875 sales amounted to a slick 285-percent gain compared with last March, when the new-generation RDX was pending launch. The MDX midsize crossover slid 15 percent to 3,207 sales and a the ZDX wagon convinced just 43 buyers.

Meanwhile, the new RLX flagship sedan, which went on sale in mid-March, chipped in with 336 units and the compact ILX sedan also contributed 2,059 new sales. The usually reliable TSX midsize sedan was off 56 percent, however, on 1,492 sales.

Hyundai: Hyundai Motor America saw sales fall in March to 68,306, a 2-percent dip. Last March was Hyundai's best month of the year. Still, the first quarter of 2013 is Hyundai's best ever. "This March was an incredibly strong month for us, the second best sales month in our history, just two percent below our all-time record from last March," said John Krafcik , president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America.

Hyundai has been blaming inventory constraints on its lower sales. In March, the South Korean automaker unleashed some extra production of the Elantra, the 2012 North American Car of the Year, by adding a third shift at its Alabama assembly plant. Elantra sales were up 33 percent to 26,153 cars, an all-time sales record. Sales of the full-size Azera sedan, made over a year ago, were up 773 percent to 1,117 cars, from 128 a year ago March. Sales of the redesigned Santa Fe rose 22 percent to 7,116 SUVs. The rest of Hyundai's line reported declines. In the intensely competitive midsize sedan segment where it is the oldest of the volume players, the Hyundai Sonata had sales down 23 percent to 18,031 cars, which Hyundai's Krafcik blamed on limited inventory. The automaker said the Sonata Hybrid set a new all-time sales record with 2,006 sales, up 13 percent versus last year. Also posting declines were: Accent, down 32 percent to 5,669 cars; Sonata, down 23 percent to 18,031 vehicles; Tucson, down 3 percent to 4,073 units; Vercruz, down to a scant 39 from 622 vehicles; and Veloster, off 17 percent to 2,693 cars.

Hyundai fleet sales were 17 percent in March; 16 percent for the first quarter.

Kia: Kia Motors America reported March sales of 49,125 vehicles, down 15 percent from last March's blockbuster sales. The first quarter of 2013 wound up being Kia's second best next to the year-ago quarter.

Sales of every model in Kia's portfolio declined from year-ago levels: Optima, down 4 percent to 14,336 cars; Soul, fell11 percent to 12,080 units; Sorento, dipped 3 percent to 10,005 vehicles; Forte, down 29 percent at 5,931 units; Rio,off 11 percent to 4,009 cars; Sportage, decreased 28 percent to 2,680 vehicles. The Sedona minivan was down to a mere 54 units.

Kia said it is set to deliver seven all-new or significantly redesigned vehicles this calendar year, including the new 2014 Sorento, which arrived in dealerships in February and the new 2014 Forte compact sedan, scheduled to arrive in dealerships in April. The new 2014 Soul and 2014 Forte Koup along with the updated 2014 Optima — all introduced at the New York auto show last month - are scheduled to arrive in late summer or early fall. An addition to the Kia lineup will be the 2014 Cadenza, which Kia calls the most powerful and technologically-advanced vehicle Kia has introduced in the U.S.

Volkswagen: Volkswagen of America reported 37,704 vehicles sold in March, a 3- percent increase over prior year sales and the German automaker's best March since 1973. It was also Volkswagen's best first quarter since 1973 with 98,178 vehicles sold for a 4-percent increase from Q1 2012.

"Last month marked our 31st consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases and our strongest March in 40 years," said Jonathan Browning, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. "While we are cautious in terms of economic outlook, we expect to see continued growth at a moderate pace in the months ahead."

Volkswagen continues to be more cautious about full-year sales than other automakers. Browning notes repeatedly in his monthly sales call the "patchiness" of sales throughout the month. He puts 2013 sales at 15.2 million to 15.5 million. The company will firm up its forecast number in the second quarter.

"The industry is far from smooth sailing," he said again in March, despite it being the industry's best since 2007. But, added Browning, who spent much of his career in Europe, "The U.S. consumer one of the most resilient I've come across in the world. If you have confidence to commit to a consumer durable, it's a great time to buy a car because of the choice of vehicles and the low cost of money."

The volume leading Jetta sedan delivered 12,872 units. Jetta SportWagen closed the month with 2,133 units, up 6 percent. The U.S.-built Passat had sales of 9,521 units, down 5 percent from a year ago, but still closed out its best first quarter ever. Of those Passats sold in March, 34 percent were sold with diesel engines; for the quarter, diesels accounted for just under 30 percent.

The revamped Beetle and Beetle Convertible, advertised heavily and cleverly throughout college basketball's March Madness, posted a double-digit increase — 107 percent to a total of 4,082 units. Sales of the Tiguan crossover rose 24 percent to 3,304 units for its best March and best quarter. CC sales were up 33 percent to 1,770 units.

Total sales of the Golf (including Golf R and GTI) were 2,854 cars, down 21 percent. The next-generation A7 Golf was shown at the New York auto show and is on sale in Europe before it arrives in the U.S. Also down were Touareg, down 3 percent to 672 units, Routan, the Chrysler-built minivan, which had sales of a mere 39 units compared with 590 a year ago. In total, diesels accounted for 22.6 percent of all Volkswagen sales in March, up nearly 7 percent from a year ago.

Subaru: Subaru of America set yet-another monthly sales record. Subaru's March car sales totaled 36,701 vehicles, a 13-percent increase from a year ago for the Japanese automaker's best-ever month for sales and its best-ever first quarter.

Outback remained Subaru's volume leader at 10,453 cars sold though that was a drop of 34 percent. The recently redesigned Forester was second with a 46 percent increase to 9,050 vehicles. The BRZ sports car added 905 sales; the XV Crosstrek, which adds a hybrid in the fall that was unveiled at the New York auto show in March, added 4,688 sales. Impreza sales were off 38 percent to 5,327 units; Impreza WRX sales rose 44 percent to 1.727 units. Legacy sales were down 18 percent at 4,400 units.

BMW: The BMW Group, including the BMW and Mini brands, reported March sales of 33,149 vehicles, an increase of 11 percent from a year ago, pushing sales for the quarter 4 percent higher than last year.

BMW division sales hit 27,078 vehicles, a 13-percent gain for the brand's best-ever March. While car sales rose 13 percent, sales in the utility segment were up 40 percent to 7,317 units in total; X3 was up 42 percent, X5 rose 36 percent and X6 gained by 65 percent. BMW's best performers on the car side included: the Z4 Roadster, up 21 percent to 316 units; and the 6 Series, up 16 percent to 877 units. Sales of the 3 Series fell 11 percent and will be aided by the arrival of the new, lower priced 3208 in April, BMW said. Sales of the 7 Series fell 18 percent; 5 Series sales dipped 3 percent.

Mini sales rose nearly 4 percent to 6,071 vehicles. In positive territory were the Countryman and roadster; the new Paceman, not available last year, added 169 units.

Mazda: Mazda North American Operations reported March sales of 32,028 vehicles, a 1-percent decline from last year, pushing first-quarter sales down 5 percent. Highlights included; the best-ever month for the CX-5 with 7,116 sold, a 96-percent increase; the best-ever month for the CX-9 at 4,281 vehicles, up 124 percent; and Mazda5 sales up 101 percent to 2,526 vehicles. The new Maza6 had sales of 2,702 vehicles, down 22 percent from a year ago but up 108 percent from February as inventory grows.

Declines were posted by: Mazda2, down 37 percent to a mere 925 vehicles; Mazda 3, down 18 percent but still the volume leader at 10,505 units; and MX-5 Miata, off 17 percent to only 573 units.

Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes-Benz USA had a record month in March, selling 24,646 vehicles, up 7 percent from a year ago. That closed out a record-setting first quarter of 69,187 Mercedes vehicles sold. Combined sales of Mercedes-Benz r vehicles, Smart cars and Sprinter vans for the month totaled 27,104, up 6 percent and up 12 percent to 75,214 for the first quarter.

"We're coming out of our highest first quarter on record — and that's before launching a single new product," said Steve Cannon , president and CEO of MBUSA.  "With completely redesigned E-Class models arriving at dealerships, a next generation S-Class and a new entry point for the brand — the CLA — in the wings, we're looking at our strongest year on record."

Posting sales hikes were: the volume-leading C-Class, up 32 percent to 8,396 cars; S-class, up 24 percent to 1,216 cars; SL-class, a shopping 791-percent higher at 659 cars; G-Class, up 184 percent to 250 units; GL-Class up 42 percent to 2,803 units; and GLK-Class up 11 percent to 2,694 vehicles. The rest of Mercedes' line saw sales declines, including the E-Class, off 28 percent at 4,009 units, and M-Class, down 14 percent.

Smart sales dipped 7 percent to 929 units. Sprinter van sales rose 11 percent to 1,529 vehicles.

Audi: Audi reported record March sales of 13,253 vehicles, a 14-percent increase over the previous March record set last year.

On the plus side in March were: A4 and allroad, up 20 percent to 3,915 vehicles; A6, up 18 percent to 1,746 cars; A8, up 35 percent to 563 cars; Q5 up 39 percent to 3,099 vehicles; and Q7, up 53 percent at 1,092 vehicles. A7 sales were flat.

A3 sales plummeted 81 percent to a mere 120 vehicles. A5 sales were off 5 percent at 1,628 vehicles. R8 sales fell 24 percent to 68 units. TT sales fell 15 percent to 189 cars.

Audi noted that its premium category, including A8, A7, A6 and Q7, represented 37 percent of Audi's sales during the first quarter.

"Demand remains extremely strong for our most luxurious and our most popular premium models," said Mark Del Rosso, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Audi of America. "All signs point to sustained growth in the months ahead as Audi works towards a target goal of 150,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. this year."

Jaguar Land Rover: Jaguar Land Rover North America had its best March sales since 2006. Sales for the two brands increased 4 percent to 5,722 units.

"We are thrilled that the Jaguar Land Rover business had such a robust kick off to the spring selling season with our best March in seven years," said Andy Goss, President, Jaguar land Rover North America.

Land Rover sales were up 3 percent to 4,314 SUVs, closing out its best-ever first quarter. Its strength came from the Range Rover Evoque, which had its best-ever monthly sales with a 47-percent increase from a year ago, while the land Rover set a record for first-quarter sales.

Jaguar sales increased 7 percent to 1,408 cars, its highest monthly sales volume in 30 months. The XF drove Jaguar's overall sales with a 30 percent increase.

Volvo: Volvo Cars of North America reported sales of 5,365 units, a 20-percent decrease from a year ago, pushing them 8 percent lower for the quarter. The S60 sports sedan was the top seller at 1,957 units sold, a drop of 25 percent. The XC60 crossover finished the month with 1,690 units sold, up 8 percent. Only the C30 gained, up 9 percent to a scant 199 vehicles.

Porsche: Porsche Cars North America, Inc. reported a record 3,487 vehicles sold in March, up 41 percent from a year ago, for the German sports car maker's best quarter for U.S. sales following a record 2012. Sales of the 911 sports car soared 112 percent to 990 units. Cayenne sales rose 20 percent to 1,508 SUVs. Panamera sales fell 37 percent to 411 units. "In March, our two-door sports cars accounted for 45 percent of our total sales — a number that we expect to remain this strong with the arrival of the all-new Cayman later this month," said Detlev von Platen, President and CEO, Porsche Cars North America, Inc.

Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi Motors North America reported March sales down 26 percent to 5,286 vehicles. Mitsubishi blamed the decline on the discontinuation of some models. The Outlander Sport had a 48-percent increase in sales to 2,442 units, its best single month ever. The previous high was 2,253 sold in September 2012. Lancer and Outlander sales were up. The automaker sold only 31 units of the all-electric Mitsubishi compared with 56 a year ago.

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