Robust demand for pickups continues General Motors

Robust demand for pickups continues

Pickup truck sales in March remained strong in the U.S., spurred on in part by the revival of the U.S. housing market, according to OEMs.

“General Motors delivered its best March sales in five years thanks to a strengthening economy and new products, and we are expecting our third consecutive increase in market share versus last year,” noted Kurt McNeil, GM’s VP-U.S. sales operations. “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.”

GM said it sold 245,950 total vehicles in the U.S. this March, which is up 6% compared with the same month last year. While the OEM’s overall truck sales – including pickups, vans and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) – increased just 2%, large pickup jumped 6%.

For first quarter of 2013, GM said the biggest jump in sales occurred for large pickup trucks, which increased 21% percent, while mini, small and compact car sales garnered the next largest spike at 14%.

Chrysler Group LLC said its U.S. sales jumped 5% to 171,606 units in March compared to the same month in 2012; notching the group's best monthly sales number since December 2007.

Sales of Ram pickup trucks topped 33,831 units in March, up 25% compared to the same month last year, with sales of the Light Duty Ram pickup up 30%, led by the Ram’s Quad Cab models. Heavy Duty Ram sales were up 28%, driven by the Crew Cab model, Chrysler said.

Year-to-date Ram pickup sales are up 15% to 77,594 units and Ram Truck brand sales overall jumped 24% this March compared to March 20102 – the largest percentage sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand in March, the OEM noted.

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) noted that its overall vehicle sales in March topped 205,342 units, an increase of 4.8% on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis, with first quarter sales jumping 10.1% on a DSR basis to 529,444 vehicles; numbers that translate into a first quarter increase of 8.7% on an unadjusted raw volume basis compared to the first quarter of 2012.

Pickups did well for TMS in March, with full-size Tundra sales up 7.9% to 9,270 units and mid-size Tacoma sales up 21.2% to 15,201 units for total truck sales volume of 24,471 units – a 15.8% increase compared to March 2012.

Year-to-date (YTD) sales for the Tundra and Tacoma increased 15.4% to 23,580 units and 22.9% to 39,467 units, respectively, bringing total YTD pickup sales up 20% to 63,047 units, the OEM said.

"The auto industry continued its string of impressive monthly results, and at Toyota we had our best month since 'cash for clunkers' in August of 2009," noted Bob Carter, senior VP-automotive operations, for TMS. "A strong first-quarter close and increased consumer confidence continue to position the auto industry as a leader in the economic recovery."

Ford Motor Co. said its overall sales in March jumped 6% to 236,160 vehicles, with car sales even with March of last year, while SUV sales increased 14% and trucks went up 6%. Ford added that its F-Series pickups sales increased 16% in March to 67,513 units.

Ford noted that the automotive industry’s full-size pickup segment overall jumped an estimated 15% over last year, while GM said current vehicle sales overall indicated a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 15.2 million for the U.S. market – leading the OEM to estimate vehicle sales should be within a 15 million to 15.5 million SAAR range by the end of 2013.

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