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Honda March U.S. Sales Decline 5%

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Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (HMC: Quote) on Tuesday reported a 5 percent decline in U.S. new vehicle sales for the month of March, as higher sales of trucks were more than offset by lower car sales.

However, other automakers reported higher U.S. vehicle sales for March, helped by continued strong demand for smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles and an improving economy. Rising gas prices have accelerated consumer demand for more fuel efficient vehicles.

American Honda Motor Co. Inc., a unit of Honda, said that March new-vehicle sales of cars and light trucks declined to 126,999 units from 133,650 units in the prior-year period.

Total car sales for the month declined 16.9 percent to 67,414 units, while total truck sales rose 13.5 percent to 59,585 units.

The Honda division posted March sales of 115,833 cars and trucks, a decrease of 4.3 percent from 121,039 units a year earlier. The division's total car sales dropped 17.6 percent to 61,098 units, while truck sales grew 16.7 percent to 54,735 units. The Honda division includes the Fit, Accord, Civic, Odyssey and Pilot brands.

Sales of Accord decreased 15.1 percent, while Civic sales dropped 9.7 percent. However, the all-new 2012 Honda CR-V sport utility vehicle posted an all-time monthly sales record of 30,868 units, up 40.3 percent from last year.

The Acura luxury division's March car and truck sales totaled 11,166 units, down 11.5 percent compared to March 2011.

The TSX model registered a double-digit sales increase, up 19.4 percent from the same period last year to 3,355 units. Sales of the TL model dropped 26.8 percent to 2,923 units.

Meanwhile, Honda's Canada sales for March decreased more than 9 percent to 13,743 units.

Among other automakers, General Motors Co. (GM) said Tuesday that its total U.S. vehicle sales in March rose 11.8 percent from the year-ago period to 231,052 units.

Ford Motor Co. (F: Quote) said its March U.S. sale rose 5 percent from last year, as rising gas prices continued to drive strong consumer demand for its fuel-efficient vehicles. Chrysler Group LLC, majority owned by Italy-based Fiat SpA (FIATY.PK), continued its strong momentum with 34 percent growth in the month.

Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. (TM: Quote) reported a 15 percent surge in U.S. vehicle sales. Nissan North America Inc., a unit of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (NSANY.PK), reported a 12.5 percent increase in March U.S. sales.

HMC closed Tuesday's trading at $38.39, down $0.45 or 1.16 percent on a volume of 604,153 shares.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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