For the second month in a row, U.S. auto sales came in much higher than the consensus expected in February and reached a four-year high of 15.1 million units at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate (see chart above). Despite higher gas prices, total February light vehicle sales came in an impressive 15.7% above a year earlier, led by a 40.4% increase for Chrysler and 34% increase for Volkswagen (OTCPK:VLKAF). Sales of the Ford (NYSE:F) Focus doubled over the last year, and the company overall had a 14.4% increase. GM (NYSE:GM) highlights included a 28% year-over-year sales increase for the Chevrolet Silverado truck and a 20% annual gain for the GMC Sierra truck.
The last time U.S. monthly sales surpassed 15 million vehicles was in February 2008, as the recession was just beginning. A Reuters report cites rising consumer confidence, upbeat U.S. economic data, pent-up demand and greater availability of credit for the higher-than-expected jump in February car sales.