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March car sales strongest in years

Ford, GM up 6%; Chrysler up 5%

An improving economy put consumers back in the driver's seat.  Automakers reported strong sales for March, the best month in about six years.

Sales at Ford and General Motors each rose about 6 percent, while Chrysler's sales were up 5 percent compared to March of last year. Ford and Chrysler each reported the best monthly sales since 2007.

April Ancira, vice president of Ancira Auto Group, said foot traffic has increased.

"We're getting tax returns coming in. So, a lot of folks are using those as down payment," she said. "New car sales are just really starting to soar."

Low interest rates, now averaging 4.1 percent, are luring people to the showrooms. 

Consumer confidence in improved financial situations also has people ready to replace aging vehicles. The average age of a vehicle on the road is about 11 years as people have put off a major car purchase during uncertain times.

Emma Macias has been wanting a new SUV for some time. Tuesday, she was actually shopping for one.

"We were trying to save some money, so we have it now," she said.

Leading sales in  South Texas were pickup trucks. Sales of Ford F-Series remained strong, and the Dodge Ram was Chrysler's hottest seller last month.

"There's a definite correlation between truck sales and construction," Ancira said. "You see that also with the  Ford Eagle  pipeline as well. We're seeing a lot of sales out at our Floresville store."

Contractors have been replacing entire aging fleets, a sign of an improving economy.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.


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