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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Hefty incentives helped drive March sales for import nameplates to a year-over-year increase of more than 27 percent, according to the American International Automobile Dealers Association. 

Specifically, import brands combined to sell 607,383 vehicles during March, a 27.1-percent upswing compared to the same period of 2009.

So far this year, import automakers' sales have reached roughly 1.41 million, compared with approximately 1.24 million through the first three months of last year.

"Last month, consumers took advantage of unprecedented discounts on some of the most reliable, fuel efficient and safe vehicles on the road," shared AIADA president Cody Lusk. "The incentives will be phased out, but they proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Americans are once again ready to buy new cars."

Taking action after consumers were concerned with its recent unintended acceleration issues, Toyota rolled out zero-percent financing offers that "led the incentive push," and several other brands soon joined.

It appears to have paid off, as these incentives resulted in major gains for the Toyota nameplate. For instance, the automaker's sales climbed 40.6 percent year-over-year.

Furthermore, the Nissan brand moved ahead 44 percent and Honda brand enjoyed an increase of 21.6 percent.

Other nameplates saw significant increases as well, including Subaru (up 46.4 percent), Lexus (up 42 percent), Volkswagen (up 40.9 percent), Infiniti (up 37.3 percent), Audi (up 33.5 percent) and Acura (up 30.2 percent), among others, according to AutoData Corp. information provided by AIADA.

In fact, of the 29 nameplates included in AIADA's chart of import brands, just seven showed year-over-year decreases.

Showing the heaviest decline was Saab, whose March sales of 133 units were down 89.5 percent from 1,265 vehicles sold in March 2009. However, inventory levels were likely down across the board for Saab dealers. The automaker just recently got back into production mode as a newly independent company.

Continuing on to discuss market share, import brands commanded 56.9 percent of the market, which is up from February when their market share was 44.8 percent after combining to sell 417,013 vehicles.

Breaking it down, Asian brands had a market share of 49 percent, while Europeans took 7.9 percent. Domestic brands earned 43 percent of the market.

Though the Ford F-Series was the top-selling vehicle during March, five of the next six bestsellers and six of the top 10 were imports.

Toyota was neck-and-neck with Ford in leading the list, as each placed three models in the top 10.

Toyota's Camry/Solara was No. 2 on the list, while the Toyota Corolla/Matrix was No. 4 and the Toyota RAV4 was sixth.