Mid-Size, Crossover Sales Help Big Three Along In March

Although their sales are still slipping, mid-size and crossover sales for March have contributed a healthy portion to the Big Three’s sales.

Ford saw its sales slip 9 percent in March versus a year ago, to 264,975, a better performance than the 20.2 percent drop Edmunds.com had forecasted.

Meanwhile, Ford’s mid-size cars - the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ - and crossovers - the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX - set monthly sales records.

In the mid-size lineup, the Fusion was up 48 percent compared to March 2006, Milan was up 45 percent and MKZ was up 13 percent. For the crossovers, the Edge, which debuted in December 2006, was up 37 percent over February, and the Lincoln MKX rose 32 percent.

Edmunds.com had predicted GM would see a decrease in March sales of 4.8 percent, and GM’s sales totaled 349,867 units, a decrease of 7.7 percent.

“In March, we saw continued strength and stability in our retail business led by gains in mid-cars crossovers, economy cars and luxury SUVs,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president, GM North American Sales, Service and Marketing.

For the first quarter, GM’s production was down 15 percent compared to the first quarter 2006. GM also lowered its second quarter target to 1.16 million units, down 15,000 units from last month’s target.

Edmunds.com forecasted a rise in sales of 4.9 percent for Toyota. For the month, Toyota saw an increase of 7.7 percent, to its best-ever monthly sales of 242,675.

Edmunds.com expected Chrysler to see a 9.6 percent drop in March sales. DaimlerChrysler reported a 4 percent slip, with the Chrysler Group dropping 5 percent.