April 4, 2012 10:40 AM, EDT

Auto Sales Jump 13% in March

Chris Van Houten/Trans Pixs

U.S. sales of cars and light trucks rose 13% in March, sending the industry to the best pace since the first quarter of 2008, as buyers sought more fuel-efficient models, Bloomberg reported.

Deliveries rose to a 14.4 million seasonally adjusted annual rate from 13.1 million a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp., Bloomberg said.

Chrysler Group LLC’s sales jumped climbed 34%, while General Motors Co., the No. 1 U.S. automaker, saw its sales rise 12%.

Ford Motor Co., the No. 2 automaker by U.S. sales, said its deliveries rose 5%. Its Focus compact’s sales jumped 65%, while sales of its F-Series pickup trucks rose 9%, to 58,061, Bloomberg reported.

Toyota Motor Corp. reported a 15% gain and Nissan Motor Co.’s deliveries rose 13%. Toyota’s Prius line of four hybrid models rose to 28,711 units in March, a record, Bloomberg said.

Honda Motor Co. fell behind Nissan to drop to No. 6 in U.S. sales through the first quarter, after its deliveries in March slipped 5%.

Volkswagen AG’s combined sales of its VW and Audi brands rose by 30%, while Korea-based Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. combined to sell 20% more vehicles than a year earlier.