U.S. auto sales rise in February despite fuel price jump –table image

Total U.S. auto sales accelerated despite an unnerving jump in fuel prices. Total sales rose 16 percent over a strong year-ago period to the fastest selling rate in four years.

February sales hit a 15.1 million annual rate, according to Autodata, the industry’s best month since February 2008. That rate was almost 1 million stronger than last month’s pace.

Erich Merkle, Ford’s top U.S. sales analyst, says small cars made up around 19 percent of industry sales in December. That rose to 21 percent in January and could go as high as 24 percent in February, once final sales are tallied.

“For fuel-efficient vehicles, we expected to see demand as gasoline prices really surged through the month, but the big surprise is on the truck front.
It speaks to the broad-based nature of this recovery,” Alec Gutierrez, an analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said