JohnsonU.S. auto sales rose 24 percent in March.

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Katie Johnson: Auto sales numbers promising, yet deceiving

Published 9:44am Thursday, April 8, 2010

This may appear to be the turning point for the dismal auto industry.

Although an increase in sales can be seen as a positive, those sales figures are also compared to the extremely depressed numbers of March 2009.

Ford sold 183,425 cars and light trucks last month, good for a 40-percent increase from February.

GM increased sales 22 percent overall for the month, selling 188,011 cars and light trucks.

One local dealer, Tyler, has reported success with its new line, Kia, which offer economical, trendy vehicles with long warranties.

Kia Motors, owned by Hyundai Motor Co., announced last week that March sales increased 23.5 percent, its highest ever posting for that month.

Toyota, plagued by a massive recall and loss of consumer trust, announced this week it will extend its aggressive sales incentives as part of an industry-wide “incentive war’ launched last month.

The company has reported that its incentive program helped boost sales by 4 percent last month over last year.

However, analysts criticize the program, claiming that the longer Toyota offers the incentives, the more consumers will expect those prices as standard.

The incentive war has forced other companies to offer similar programs to keep customers coming to their showrooms as well.

General Motors’ sales rose nearly 21 percent from the year before, earning them a No. 1 spot in total sales.

Ford Motor Co. came in third with a nearly 40-percent spike.

Among the largest U.S. automakers, only Chrysler posted a decline in sales, at 8 percent, from March 2009.

Katie Johnson is managing editor of the Niles Daily Star, Cassopolis Vigilant and Edwardsburg Argus.
She can be reached at (269) 683-7713 or at katie.johnson@leaderpub. com.

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