U.S. Auto Sales Spikes up, But Buyers Prefer Smaller Models

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More and more Americans are now buying smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles as fuel prices and unemployment rate remained high, a new data released by industry research firm.

A new data released by industry research firm showed a significant improvement in the U.S. automotive market as more first-time buyers purchase smaller, fuel-efficient car models.

Based on records, sales of new vehicles in the U.S. spiked up by 17 percent to 1.25 million in March this year, showing a healthy growth rate in the auto industry.

Meanwhile, the monthly car sales for the industry hit 13.1 million, which is higher than the previous year’s level. However, the figures remained to be sluggish compared to the latter years when vehicle sales hit an annual average of 16 million.

Records showed that carmakers – including Ford, General Motors, Honda, and Nissan – posted double digit growth in terms of sales during the period. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp., the largest carmaker in the world, posted a six percent drop in its sales.

But despite the stronger-than-expected auto sales, many economists warned that growth in the industry may come to another halt following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that has hit Japan.

Also, the increasing prices of fuel due to the political tension in the Middle East and North Africa may also take its toll to cash-trapped Americans. Last week, the national average for gas hit $3.58 per gallon, the highest level this year.

According to analysts, many Americans are now choosing smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles to cope with the slow economic recovery. Also, the uncertainty in the labor market remained to be a factor in buying new vehicles.

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