March's international nameplate sales figures confirmed that American consumers respond well to incentives. International nameplates were up more than 27 percent over March 2009, while domestics experienced a 20.8 percent improvement. In response to customer concerns over unintended acceleration reports, Toyota led the incentive push with zero percent financing offers on some of its most popular vehicles, including the Camry and RAV-4. Other automakers quickly followed. As a result, Toyota sales were up 40.6 percent, Honda's sales were up 21.6 percent, and Nissan saw an improvement of 44 percent.
"Last month, consumers took advantage of unprecedented discounts on some of the most reliable, fuel efficient, and safe vehicles on the road," said AIADA president Cody Lusk. "The incentives will be phased out, but they proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Americans are once again ready to buy new cars."
International Brand Market Share Rebounds
According to numbers from Autodata Corp., international brands sold 607,383 units in March, up from 417,013 units in February and 383,250 units in January, occupying a total 56.9 percent share of the U.S. auto market. Asian brands accounted for 49 percent of the market, an improvement over February's market share of 44.8 percent. European nameplates held 7.9 percent of the market in March, down from 8.7 percent in February.
Top Selling Vehicles
Six of the top 10 selling vehicles in March were international nameplates, up from five in February. The Toyota Camry continued its climb up the list -- from its fourth place spot last month -- into the second position behind the Ford F Series Pickup. The Toyota RAV-4 rejoined the top contenders at number six, while the Chevrolet Malibu fell from number 10 last month to number 14 this month. Although not in the top 10, other notable international vehicles for March include the Hyundai Sonata at number 12, the Honda CR-V at number 16, and the Toyota Highlander and Prius at number 19 and 20 respectively. Both Toyota and Ford tied for top honors with three vehicles apiece in the month's 10 best-selling vehicle rankings. Each of the top 10 vehicles posted year-over-year sales improvements by an average of 25.6 percent.
Automakers sold 322,394 SUVs and Crossovers in March, more vehicles than any other segment and an improvement over the 235,889 units sold in February. The mid-size car segment once again clocked in at second place with 274,175 vehicles sold. Overall, Asian nameplates sold 317,642 cars and 205,133 trucks during March, while European automakers sold 62,243 cars and 22,365 trucks. Domestics registered sales of 165,656 cars and 293,166 trucks.
Overall sales, including domestic brands and unadjusted for business days, were up 24.3 percent from March 2009 and 15.5 percent for the year. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for light vehicles now stands at 11.78 million, an improvement from 9.72 million units in March 2009.
See below for a complete breakdown of March 2010 monthly and year-to-date sales by international nameplate.