ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The 9,500 international nameplate franchises accounted for 56.2% of all new vehicles sold in the United Sates in March, a 54% increase from February, according to the American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA).
According to AutoData Corp., the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) in March was 16.62 million units, falling below 17 million for the first time since last August. Industrywide, 1.56 million light vehicles were sold in March, up from 1.33 million in February but down from 1.58 million units in March 2016. Unadjusted for business days, sales for all brands were down 1.6% from a year ago. Sales for international brands as a group were slightly better off, falling just 0.4% from a year ago.
Honda's sales were up 1.8% from a year ago, while Nissan's sales rose 0.5%. Subaru registered an impressive 11.3% sales improvement, its 64th month of consecutive gains. Toyota's sales were down 1.2%, while sales for its Lexus division slipped 7.5%.
For all automakers, car sales were down 10.6% from a year ago, while light truck sales were up 5.2%. The average length of time a car sat on a dealer's lot reached 70 days in March, the longest stretch of time since July 2009.
"The industry's performance in March suggests that sales may be plateauing," said AIADA President Cody Lusk. "Now is the time for dealers to tighten their operations and push back against any government efforts to raise taxes on consumers already struggling to make ends meet."
International auto sales in the United States totaled 874,130 units in March, up from 719,503 units in February but down slightly from 877,458 units in March 2016. Asian brands occupied 47% of March's auto market, up from 45.5 percent in February and beating the domestic nameplates' 43.8% market share. Overall, Asian nameplate dealers sold 731,163 light vehicles last month, a 1.1% drop from a year ago.
European brands sold 142,967 light vehicles last month, up from 112,797 units in February and 138,488 units a year ago. Their March sales were up 3.2% from March 2016.