Apr. 01 - Automakers released their latest U.S. sales numbers on Tuesday. Results show the winter freeze on sales appears to be thawing out. Lily Jamali reports.
Americans are back at it - and buying cars again. After a long winter, auto sales in the U.S. rebounded in March, with demand topping some analysts projections. Better weather and incentives helped drive the numbers. Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com, says the results show a boost in consumer confidence: SOUNDBITE: JESSICA CALDWELL, SENIOR ANALYST, EDMUNDS.COM (ENGLISH) SAYING: "People have to feel good about making large purchases. They have to feel good about the economy, their jobs, and the overall economic environment because the average cost of a car today is over $30,000 so it's not a small amount." For the most part, foreign carmakers saw strong results for the month with Toyota sales up 5%, Subaru up 21%, and Mitsubishi up 70%. Among the big three U.S. automakers, Ford sales in the U.S. were up 3% vs. Fiat Chrysler which saw sales grow by 13%. And despite recent recalls, GM reported retail sales were up 4%. Pent-up demand drove sales at this Bronx, New York GM dealership 27% higher. CEO John LaSorsa says once a consumer decides to buy, bad weather is just a short-term inconvenience. SOUNDBITE: JOHN LASORSA, CEO, LASORSA AUTO GROUP (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They'll regroup and come back a few days later so ultimately, the month will shake out. We'll do well but it does slow us down for a bit." He says these days, more consumers are leasing. Discounts, low interest rates have also helped draw in drivers. SOUNDBITE: JOHN LASORSA, CEO, LASORSA AUTO GROUP (ENGLISH) SAYING: "GM now does a lot of business. They have GM financial which is slowly becoming the captive finance - it'll be great for the dealer body. It'll have competitive leases. We're happy to have that as one of our tools to lease cars." Customer Anthony Compagnone says the desire to buy domestic was part of his decision to stick with GM. SOUNDBITE: ANTHONY COMPAGNONE, GM CUSTOMER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It is a tough economy right now and the more American cars we can buy, the better off we'll be." And April is widely expected to be even brighter for auto sales in the U.S.