U.S. auto sales slowed down a bit in March, but the industry remains optimistic about the market.
The Associated Press reported that March sales were expected to be flat compared with last March. Car buying site TrueCar.com predicted total U.S. sales of 1.5 million vehicles in March, down less than 1% from a year ago.
General Motors’ sales fell 2% and Ford and Nissan both saw 3% declines compared with last March. FCA — the parent of Chrysler and Fiat — said its U.S. sales rose 2% in March. But sales of its top seller, the Ram pickup, were down 2%.
March won’t see the kind of big increases the industry is used to. U.S. auto sales were up 14% in January, for example, and 5% in February.
But there were several contributing factors. Last March saw a surge in sales after an unusually cold February; by contrast, this March still had lingering snow in much of the country. This March also had one less weekend than last March.
Analysts said sales remain on track to reach 17 million this year, their best performance since 2005. Low interest rates, low gas prices, the improving economy and hot new SUVs like the Subaru Outback and the Jeep Cherokee are all drawing buyers to dealerships. Cherokee sales were up 38% in March.
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