March new car sales in U.S. up 12.7%

Kyodo

New car sales in the United States increased 12.7 percent to 1.4 million units in March for the 10th straight month of year-on-year growth, according to data released Tuesday by a U.S. research firm.

Toyota Motor Corp. saw its sales jump 15.4 percent to 203,282 vehicles, the highest level since August 2009, showing a steady recovery from the aftermath of last year’s earthquake and tsunami, according to Autodata Corp.

In contrast, Honda Motor Co. posted a sales decline of 5.0 percent to 126,999 units after enjoying robust growth of 12.3 percent in February, when Toyota’s sales had risen 12.4 percent.

In the U.S. car market, Toyota remained in third place with a share of 14.5 percent, while Honda, with a share of 9.0 percent, dropped to the No. 6 spot behind Nissan Motor Co.

Nissan regained the No. 5 position it lost in December, earning a share of 9.7 percent by selling 136,317 units, a rise of 12.5 percent from February.

Among the Detroit Three, General Motors Co. sold 231,052 units, up 11.8 percent, holding on to the top position with a market share of 16.4 percent.

Ford Motor Co. saw its sales climb 5.0 percent to 222,884 units for a 15.9 percent market share, remaining the second-biggest carmaker.

Chrysler Group LLC’s sales jumped 31.7 percent to 159,669 units, staying in the No. 4 slot with a share of 11.4 percent.

Among other Japanese carmakers, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., known for its Subaru brand, saw its sales leap 20.3 percent to 32,387 units and Mazda Motor Corp.’s sales grew 4.8 percent to 32,376 units.

Suzuki Motor Corp. sold 2,631 units, up 5.4 percent.

In contrast, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. saw its sales fall 5.3 percent to 7,160 units.

Audi diesel vehicle launch

Kyodo

Audi Japan KK plans to release a diesel-powered vehicle in Japan for the first time, possibly as early as 2013.

The Japanese arm of the German automaker planned to release a diesel vehicle in 2010 but put it off to prioritize sales of hybrid vehicles.

“Market needs have changed. Audi has the world’s best diesel engines and I would like to seriously consider” launching it, Audi Japan President Hiroshi Okita said Tuesday.