U.S. auto sales rose more than 11% in the first quarter, as strong March sales far outpaced last year when coronavirus pandemic began, said an AP report.
Automakers sold more than 3.9 million vehicles during the first three months of the year, with several major companies reporting March sales that nearly doubled from the same month a year earlier, according to figures compiled by Edmunds.com.
Kevin Roberts, director of industry insights for Cargurus.com, said retail sales to individual buyers were strong, but overall sales remain lower than pre-pandemic levels because of reduced fleet purchases.
The combination of a $1.9 trillion government stimulus program and people looking for transportation to keep themselves isolated from others due to the virus should keep sales strong, he said.
But a shortage of computer chips a is forcing automakers to cut production, and that could affect sales later in the year. Plus dealer supplies are tight and a lack of selection could make people delay purchases, Roberts said.
Many others, though, may want to buy immediately to drive rather than come in contact with others while traveling, he said.
Industry analysts and executives say the chip shortage is likely to continue until at least the third quarter of the year.
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