Demand for pickups fueled a 3.7 percent rise in February vehicle sales, a continued sign of an improving U.S. housing market and consumer confidence.
How does this affect U.S. automakers and their dealerships?
Domestic and foreign automakers sold 1.19 million cars and light trucks in February, compared to 1.15 million the same month a year ago, according to results released Friday by Autodata Corp.
Among domestic automakers, General Motors Co. posted a 7.2 percent boost in sales, beating analyst expectations.
Crosstown rival Ford Motor Co. saw sales rise 9.3 percent. Chrysler Group LLC’s reported a 4.2 percent climb in sales. Both automakers’ sales fell short of analysts’ expectations.
Sales at Toyota Motor Corp. were up 4.3 percent, buoyed by strong truck sales.Strong February sales came despite continued worry over automatic federal spending cuts, smaller paychecks because of an expired payroll tax break and volatile gas prices, at record levels for this time of year.
“There are some very important and constructive developments in big segments of the economy,” said Ellen Cromwick-Hughes, Ford’s chief economist, in a teleconference with analysts and the media.
Those economic indicators, which include improved home sales, new construction, and an aging vehicle fleet, continue to push consumers to dealerships in waves not seen since before the Great Recession.