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Dee-Ann Durbin
Associated Press|ap.org

DETROIT — Full-size pickups once again dominated U.S. auto sales in May, as small businesses — increasingly confident in the economy — raced to replace the aging pickups they held on to during the recession.

Car buyers, too, were attracted by low interest rates and Memorial Day sales. Overall, U.S. consumers bought 1.4 million vehicles in May, up 8 percent from the same month a year ago, according to Autodata Corp.

The results suggest the auto industry will remain a bright spot in an economy that’s been slowed by weak manufacturing. And the boost from the industry will help sustain the economy’s steady job growth. read more »

 

DETROIT — America is getting back to work, and it needs pickup trucks.

Strong truck demand in March drove U.S. auto sales to their highest monthly total since August 2007, as everyone from oil and gas producers to local homebuilders raced to replace the aging trucks they held onto during the recession. Overall auto sales rose 3.4 percent to 1.45 million, according to Autodata Corp.

“I think day-to-day business is the best it’s been in five years,” said Tim Parker, owner of a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealer in Hot Springs, Ark. Parker recently joined a Chrysler program that helps him stock pickups so he has inventory ready when business owners come calling.

March is typically a good month for the auto industry. Many car buyers put tax refund checks toward a down payment. And Japanese automakers, whose fiscal year ends in March, often juice sales with deals to end the year on a high note. read more »

 

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. said it sold a record 11,600 natural gas vehicles in its 2012 model year, more than triple the number it sold in 2010.

It’s the latest sign that natural gas is making inroads as a transportation fuel, particularly for truck fleets, buses and taxis. The consumer market is tougher to crack, but sales are gaining there as well.

Natural gas is cheap and plentiful in the U.S. after a spike in production that began in the middle of last decade. At the same time, the price of gasoline and diesel fuel has jumped more than 30 percent.

That makes natural gas — which also emits fewer greenhouse gases — an increasingly attractive option for truck companies and municipalities. read more »

 
Amphibious vehicles could soon be zooming out of James Bond's garage — or pond — and into yours.

The Quadski, a personal watercraft that also drives up to 45 mph on land. (Photo by Carlos Osorio / AP)DETROIT — Amphibious vehicles could soon be zooming out of James Bond’s garage — or pond — and into yours.

The Quadski — a one-person all-terrain vehicle that doubles as a personal watercraft — is being billed by its makers as the first high-speed, commercially available amphibious vehicle. It’s scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. by the end of this year for around $40,000. Michigan-based Gibbs Sports Amphibians Inc. hopes to sell the vehicle worldwide by 2014. read more »

 

DETROIT — Americans found plenty of reasons to buy new cars in September, making auto sales a bright spot in the economy for yet another month.

Total U.S. sales rose 13 percent from a year earlier to nearly 1.2 million. Analysts think sales could hit 14.3 million this year, up from 12.8 million last year.

Low interest rates, aging vehicles that need replacement and appealing new models are fueling this year’s consistently strong sales, says Jessica Caldwell, an analyst for the Edmunds.com automotive website.

“That’s a good combination to get people shopping again,” Caldwell says. “That’s really what sells cars.” read more »

 
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