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Most Automobile Manufacturers Report Respectable Sales for February

The latest report on U.S. automotive sales showed the majority of manufacturers—including Ford, GM, Nissan, Hyundai, and Honda—experienced increases in February.

Following is a breakdown of last month’s sales activity:

Sales at Ford rose 43%, while GM experienced a 12% increase. Hyundai Motor Co. reported an uptick of 11%, with Honda Motor Co. and Kia achieving growth of 13% and 9%, respectively. Rounding out the pack were Subaru, Nissan, BMW, and Mercedes, which saw increases of 38%, 14%, 9%, and 8%, respectively. Even Chrysler, which had been left out of the party over the past two quarters, showed an increase of half of 1%.

Executives as GM were very pleased with February’s performance, particularly among its remaining brands. According to Susan Docherty, GM’s vice president, sales, service and marketing, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers in the U.S. reported sales of 138,849—up a combined 32% compared to February 2009. These results were driven by the continued strong growth of new GM crossovers and passenger cars, she noted.

“Although we’ve been operating as a new company with four brands for just seven months, our February results demonstrate that our long-term plan is already paying dividends,” Docherty explained. February retail sales of GM’s newest crossovers— Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX—were up 198% compared to the vehicles they replaced. This was the seventh month in a row that retail sales of these vehicles were up more than 100%, Docherty added.

Like GM, Ford saw renewed demand from corporate fleet customers. Ford's fleet sales surged 74% over February of last year, while GM's jumped 114%.

All totalled, month-end dealer inventory in the U.S. stood at 420,000, which is 30,000 higher compared to January 2010, and 361,000 lower than February 2009.


TOYOTA’S TROUBLES

On the other side of the coin, Toyota Motor Co.—hurt by recent recalls—saw revenues drop 9% in February. Sales of the Toyota Camry midsize sedan, one of the primary models affected, were down 20%, The New York Times reported. But the overall decline for Toyota was smaller than many analysts had projected. Toyota estimated that it lost about 18,000 sales because of the recalls but suggested that many of those shoppers would have been first-time buyers and that past customers did not defect in large numbers.

Most big automakers reported that sales to rental car companies and other fleet buyers also were strong as companies began buying again after cutbacks last year, according to MSNBC. Fleet sales generally mean lower profits to automakers than retail sales to individuals.
 

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