Buyers worried about summer vehicle shortages are visiting dealerships earlier than they had planned, dealers say, to get the cars they want.
And Chrysler Group, two years after its descent into bankruptcy, yesterday posted its first quarterly profit since 2006 as the company sold more cars and trucks at higher prices.
April sales, which will be reported today, are expected to be up 19 percent from last year. Dealers say the increase is at least partly due to anxious customers.
The Japan earthquake is on peoples' minds, said Adam Skolnick, general manager at Toyota Scion Watertown in Massachusetts. "There is more of a sense of urgency because they don't want to be left without a vehicle,'' he said.
The March 11 quake devastated Japanese suppliers and shut down production at automakers for weeks. Analysts estimate production has fallen by about 500,000 vehicles and will continue to grow. Toyota will not return to a regular production schedule in Japan until November at the earliest.