Industry analysts are encouraged that vehicle sales overall fell just 1 percent.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Sales of the Chevrolet Cavalier rose slightly last month, even though General Motors' car sales overall were down 12 percent.
GM sold 21,991 Cavaliers in the United States in March, up 13 cars from March of last year.
Sales of the Pontiac Sunfire were off 33 percent. GM sold 5,502 Sunfires last month, compared with 8,248 in March of last year.
Both the Cavalier and Sunfire are made at GM's Lordstown Assembly Plant, which has overtime shifts scheduled in April and May to produce more cars.
For the year, Cavalier sales are off 12 percent at 56,842, and Sunfire sales are off 23 percent at 22,389.
GM's car sales fell 12 percent last month, in part because of a 34 percent reduction in fleet sales to rental car companies and others. The company said retail sales were off by 2 percent.
Sales of both trucks and light trucks were up about 8 percent each.
GM's overall sales last month were 419,410, which was down about 5 percent from sales last March.
What analysts said: Industry-wide, U.S. vehicle sales declined a mild 1 percent last month compared with March 2001, offering encouragement to analysts and automakers that demand will strengthen and the economy will continue to improve.
Sales of passenger cars fell 2 percent compared with the same month a year ago, while light truck sales slipped 1 percent, the industry reported Tuesday.
"The month was better than most forecasts and better than Detroit was expecting," said David Healy, an analyst with Burnham Securities. "That means that production will probably increase in the second quarter."
The Big Three's overall sales were down 6 percent compared with March 2001, while sales by European and Asian companies rose 12 percent and 6 percent, respectively, in March.