By Kristen russo
For the second time since 1998, Ford surpassed General Motors in total monthly sales.
GM had an 11 percent increase in total sales for March, with dealers reporting total sales of 206,621.
Ford Motor Co. sold about 6,150 more vehicles than GM in March, with sales totaling 212,777.
Ford experienced a 14 percent increase in retail sales and a 19 percent increase in total sales.
Compared with March 2010, General Motors experienced a 17 percent increase in retail sales last month, led by the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze.
In March, the Cruze outperformed the Cobalt in retail sales by 287 percent. The Cruze replaced the Cobalt last year.
Total Cruze sales for the quarter were 50,205. In a press release issued Thursday, GM had predicted Cruze sales for the quarter would reach 50,000.
“The Cruze has met or exceeded all of its sales expectations right now,” said Tom Mock, spokesman for the Lordstown plant.
Mock said the plant will be adding overtime shifts this month to meet consumer demand.
“It’s good news for our plant, and it’s good news for our community,” he said.
The Cruze’s total March sales were 18,018. The model led a 15 percent increase in GM’s total passenger car sales and a 34 percent increase in retail passenger car sales for March.
GM retail sales for the quarter increased 38 percent compared with sales during the first quarter of 2010.
For the first three months of the year, GM’s total sales were 592,545, a 26 percent increase over the same period last year.
“Our plan was to get out of the gates quickly in the first quarter, and we succeeded,” Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. sales operations for GM, said in a press release. “Consumers responded favorably to the value of our broad lineup of fuel-efficient cars, trucks and crossovers.”
Fleet sales have declined in the first quarter of this year as the company sells more vehicles to consumers. Fleet sales were 24 percent of GM’s total sales for the quarter, down from 30 percent during the same period last year.
March deliveries to fleets were 27 percent of GM’s total sales for the month, a 1 percent decrease compared with March 2010.
March was the ninth consecutive month in which fleet sales were less than 30 percent of total sales, according to a press release.
Chrysler experienced its best March sales since 2008 and its highest sales for any month since May 2008.
The company sold 121,730 models in the U.S. last month, or a 31 percent increase compared with sales in March 2010.
For the quarter, Chrysler’s retail sales increased 51 percent compared with the first quarter of 2010.
For the quarter, Ford’s total sales were 496,720, or a 16 percent increase over the first three months of 2010.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.