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Incentives fuel 24 percent jump in U.S. auto sales

Incentives help lift sales to its highest level since 'Cash for Clunkers' program

Incentives fuel 24 percent jump in U.S. auto sales

Tempting incentives fueled a 24.3 percent jump in U.S. auto sales in March after Toyota set off a price war as it wooed customers spooked by a series of mass recalls, industry data showed Thursday.
Total industry sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 11.78 million units from 9.72 million units in March 2009 and 10.38 million units in February, according to Autodata.
Sales for the first three months of the year were up 15.5 percent from a year earlier.
"Incentives helped lift sales to its highest level since (the government-financed) Cash for Clunkers" program spurred sales in August, said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis for automotive website Edmunds.com.
"And this month will be the highest ever for average combined incentive spending for Japanese automakers, including a record high month for Toyota."
Toyota's rare offer of zero percent financing and up to 3,000 dollars cash back helped boost its sales by 40.7 percent to 186,863 in March.
The troubled Japanese automaker also managed to regain the number two spot from Ford as its U.S. market share rose to 17.5 percent in March from 12.8 percent in February, according to Autodata.
"Toyota's strong sales performance in March reflects our customers' continued confidence in the safety and reliability of our vehicles and their trust in the brand," said Don Esmond, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales USA.
"We are standing by our cars, and we're grateful that our customers are standing by Toyota."
Ford, however, expressed satisfaction that it was able to boost its sales by 43 percent to 178,546 vehicles even as its incentive spending shrank and the average transaction price of its vehicles rose.
Its market share of 16.7 percent was off by 0.9 points from February but was up 2.2 points from March 2009, according to Autodata.
"Ford's plan is working," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service.
"People increasingly are discovering that the Ford difference is the strength of our fresh, new product lineup, especially our leadership in quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart technologies and value."
Sales at GM's four remaining core brands rose 43.3 percent to 185,406 in March while its overall sales were up just 20.6 percent as a result of the wind-down and sale of Hummer, Pontiac, Saturn and Saab.
Its U.S. market share was down 0.4 points from a year earlier at 17.6 percent.
GM is "pretty encouraged" by its results and has managed to bring its incentive spending down below the industry average for the first time on record, said Susan Docherty, GM vice president of marketing.
It has also raised the average transaction price as it focuses on "earning the customer's trust rather than buying their business for short-term gain," Docherty said in a conference call.
Chrysler's troubles deepened as its sales fell 8.3 percent to 92,623 vehicles and it slipped to sixth position as its share fell to 8.7 percent from 11.8 percent in March 2009 and 10.8 percent in February.
Nissan moved up into the fifth position as its sales rose 43.3 percent to 95,468 vehicles and its share grew 1.2 points to 9.0 percent.
Honda held solidly onto fourth place with a 10.2 percent share after its sales grew 22.5 percent to 108,262 vehicles.
Asian automakers saw their share rise 1.9 points to 49 percent of the market in March, while the Detroit Three saw their combined share fall 1.3 points to 43 percent. European automakers saw their share shrink by 0.7 points in March to 7.9 percent, according to Autodata.


Updated : 2021-05-09 05:20 GMT+08:00