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Ford leads sales in March with fuel-efficient lineup

Ford sales jumped 19.2 percent in March compared to the same month a year earlier, pushing the automaker past General Motors because its lineup of more fuel-efficient passenger cars has paid off.

By Jerry Hirsch

Los Angeles Times


LOS ANGELES — March was another strong month for auto sales.

Ford sales jumped 19.2 percent to 212,777 from the same month a year earlier, pushing the automaker past General Motors to become the top seller in the U.S. auto market in March. Ford was helped by strong sales of its core Ford brand — up more than 28 percent.

Ford said its efforts to retool the company to produce more fuel-efficient passenger cars has paid off as gas prices have risen in recent months.

"Consumers are placing a high priority on fuel efficiency in every size and kind of vehicle," said Ken Czubay, Ford's sales chief.

In March, GM's sales rose 9.6 percent, to 206,621 vehicles, compared with March 2010. GM slashed its incentives and discounts during the month and that hurt its results.

Nissan said its March sales rose 26.9 percent to 121,141, the most it has ever sold in any month in America.

Chrysler reported U.S. sales of 121,730, a 31 percent increase compared with March 2010. It was Chrysler's highest sales for any month since May 2008. The company's passenger-car sales increased 46 percent.

Toyota attributed its 6 percent sales drop in March to reduced rebates. Auto-information company said Toyota's incentives fell 23 percent from March 2010 and 11 percent from February.

Toyota officials tried to reassure customers that it will have adequate supplies of the Prius, which saw sales jump 52 percent in March. Production has resumed in Japan and shipments will be arriving soon, they said.

Other automakers reporting sales Friday included:

• Kia, with a 44 percent increase from March of last year. Sales of the new Optima midsize car were up 90 percent.

• Honda said sales jumped 23 percent. The subcompact Fit, which is made in Japan, led the way with a 49 percent increase.

• Hyundai reported a 32 percent sales jump and said sales of the Elantra compact more than doubled.

Material from The Associated Press is used in this report.
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