February best month for auto sales since "Cash for Clunkers"

Illustration for article titled February best month for auto sales since Cash for Clunkers

Car salesmen took their best sportcoats out of mothballs, spritzed some Sex Panther behind their ears and sold the Puxatawney out of the market in February, giving the U.S. auto industry its best month since "Cash for Clunkers." And here you thought the middle class was broke.

Leading the pack were the big boys, with General Motors and Toyota both up 42% from a year ago. Ford and Chrysler were up 13%; Nissan jumped 32%, Honda rose 22% and Hyundai grew 28%.

And of course, with gas prices rising well above $3 per gallon across the country, much of the growth came from smaller or more fuel-efficient models. Hah, I kill myself: Of course pickups and SUVs led the sales surge, bolstered by nifty discounts. Meanwhile, GM sold 281 Chevy Volts and Nissan sold 87 Leafs, which together equal the number of Ram pickups Chrysler sells every 12 hours. Photo: AP

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Pickups and SUVs led the sales surge, while people (rightfully) bitch about rising gas prices? That's odd. Where I'm from the #1 bought new vehicle in January was the VW Polo. In the top 15 the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Renault Megane were the largest vehicles (#16 was the Passat). All of this caused by rising gas prices and tax incentives; more than twice as many new cars sold in January 2011 as in January 2010.

Why aren't people reacting to their surroundings in the US?