Chrysler Canada says auto sales climb 2 percent in March

TORONTO, April 1 Tue Apr 1, 2014 11:57am EDT

TORONTO, April 1 (Reuters) - Chrysler Canada said on Tuesday that auto sales climbed 2 percent in March from a year ago as a big surge in truck sales offset a slump in demand for cars.

Car sales tumbled by 33.5 percent to 3,469 vehicles from 5,217 last year.

The company said total March sales increased to 24,649 vehicles from 24,173 in the same period.

Truck sales climbed by 11.7 percent to 21,180 vehicles from 18,956, said Chrysler Canada, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles .

"Consistently strong sales of the new Jeep Cherokee and Ram 1500 trucks have helped to cement Chrysler Canada's position as the number one-selling automotive company through the first quarter of 2014," Chrysler Canada Chief Operating Officer Dave Buckingham said in a statement.

The company said the results marked its best first quarter and March sales since 2000.

The data showed record monthly sales for Chrysler's Ram pickup, up 1 percent over the same period last year. The Chrysler Town & Country van soared 40 percent, and the Jeep Wrangler rose 11 percent.

Year to date, total sales were up 4.9 percent at 60,869 vehicles, with truck sales 10.8 percent higher and car sales down 21.4 percent.

In the United States, March auto sales inched higher after two months of weather-impaired demand, but initial reports by major automakers showed a big sales rebound that some had expected would have to wait until April.

Ford Motor Co reported a 3 percent rise in U.S. sales; Toyota Motor Corp a 5 percent gain; and Chrysler Group, a 13 percent increase from a year ago.

Last month, Canadian auto sales were 2.4 percent higher as record truck sales more than offset the impact of severe winter weather and a drop in auto sales.

Total sales grew to 105,693 vehicles for the third best February since 2007. Chrysler Canada took the top spot as its monthly sales jumped 10 percent. (Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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