Authors: Jeanette Torres
(NEW YORK) -- The rising cost of gasoline did not discourage Americans in March from driving over to their local dealers to buy cars.
Reports out Tuesday found that domestic automakers enjoyed one of their best sales months since before the recession struck in 2008, as customers took advantage of easier credit to scoop up fuel-efficient vehicles.
Import dealers also saw a flurry of activity last month, with Volkswagen AG reporting its best March since 1973.
Chrysler said that vehicle purchases in March exceeded any month during the past four years, marking its 24th straight month of increased sales.
The company, which is controlled by Italian car maker Fiat, noted that all its lines experienced year-over-year growth as the Chrysler brand zoomed up 70 percent, with sales of Jeep, Ram and Dodge also growing considerably.
Ford and General Motors also saw their vehicles leaving dealer lots in better than expected sales during March.
Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insights at TrueCar.com, noted, "The recovery we saw in the first two months of the year has some legs -- it was not a fluke. This was the best quarter since 2008, and it shows that people are more comfortable making big-ticket purchase decisions."
The average transaction price for light vehicles last month was $30,748, a gain of 6.9 percent over March 2011, according to TrueCar.com estimates. Toprak says it proves that Detroit has finally figured out the kinds of cars consumers want in the age of volatile fuel prices.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio