Montgomery, Ala.'s Hyundai plant helped drive an overall boom in nationwide auto
sales during a March push that saw Hyundai Motor America shatter its monthly
The company sold a record 69,728 automobiles during the month, a 13 percent rise over the record total from March 2011.
Sonata sales rose 6 percent year-over-year, and Elantra sales rose 8 percent. Both cars are produced in Montgomery.
"When you look at Sonatas alone, we're the sole provider in the U.S. market," Robert Burns of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama said. "And we're a critical part of the Elantra supply chain. We succeed when they succeed."
The company's overall retail sales through dealerships rose 33 percent over last March.
Montgomery workers produced 16,892 Sonatas in March, down from 18,468 in February. But Montgomery's production of Elantras rose by more than 1,000 in the same month.
"We're shifting production to be able to meet demand, because Elantra demand is pretty strong," Burns said. "We had built up a little inventory on Sonata during the first couple months of the year."
"March was the best month in Hyundai's history and capped the best first quarter we've ever recorded," Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai Motor America's executive vice president of national sales, said in a release. "Improving vehicle availability, particularly among our most fuel-efficient vehicles, Sonata, Elantra, Accent and Veloster, has fueled this record growth."
Hyundai wasn't alone in March growth.
With gas prices near $4 a gallon, smaller cars such as the Ford Focus, Nissan Versa and Fiat 500 flew off dealer lots in March and gave the U.S. auto industry its best monthly sales in almost five years.
Sales of Ford's F-Series pickup -- the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. -- were up 9 percent, while sales of Chrysler's Ram brand rose 18 percent. Small SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee saw big gains, too.
Americans bought 1.4 million cars and trucks in March, up 13 percent from the same month a year ago. Edmunds.com said it was the most vehicles sold since August 2007.
If sales stayed at March's pace all year, annual sales would reach 14.4 million, according to Autodata Corp. That's a faster pace than predicted just two months ago and builds on the strong performance seen in January and February.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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