Japanese makers ride 15.7% surge in U.S. new auto sales

Kyodo

New car sales in the United States jumped 15.7 percent in February for the ninth straight month of year-on-year growth on the back of an economic recovery, with major U.S. and Japanese carmakers except General Motors Co. posting double-digit increases, according to data released Thursday by a U.S. research firm.

Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. — which had been reeling from the March 11 catastrophe — showed steady recovery, enjoying robust sales growth of 12.4 percent and 12.3 percent, compared with increases of 7.5 percent and 8.8 percent in January, according to Autodata Corp.

GM sold 209,306, eking out a marginal 1.1 percent rise.

Nonetheless, GM retained its No. 1 position with a share of 18.2 percent, followed by Ford Motor Co., whose sales grew 14.3 percent to 178,644 units for a share of 15.5 percent.

The second through fifth rankings were also unchanged, with Toyota remaining in third with sales growing for the fourth straight month to 159,423 units, for a 13.9 percent share.

Chrysler Group LLC saw its sales soar 37.0 percent to 130,294 units for an 11.3 percent market share, followed by Honda, which sold 110,157 units for a share of 9.6 percent, posting the sales increase for the second month in a row.

Among other Japanese carmakers, Nissan Motor Co. posted a 15.5 percent rise in sales to 106,731 units and Mazda Motor Corp.’s sales jumped 32.3 percent to 25,651 units.

Sales grew 17.0 percent to 25,374 units for Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., known for its Subaru brand, and 47.6 percent to 2,425 units for Suzuki Motor Corp.

In contrast, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. saw its sales drop 31.3 percent to 4,736 units.