LOS ANGELES -- Hyundai Motor America today said its U.S. sales fell 2 percent in March as Sonata sales fell because of inventory limitations, more than offsetting record sales of its compact cars.
Hyundai's March sales fell to 68,306 units from the 69,728 sold in March 2012, Hyundai's best-ever monthly total.
Sales of the Sonata mid-sized sedan slumped 23 percent. In contrast, sales of the Elantra compact car jumped 33 percent to 26,153 units, a monthly record for the nameplate.
Hyundai's March drop came as industrywide U.S. sales rose 3 percent. In the first quarter, Hyundai sales edged up 1 percent while the industry gained 6 percent.
"We definitely benefitted from better inventories of Elantra thanks to the addition of the third shift at our Alabama plant, improved weather conditions in our important Northern markets and more robust retail activity reflecting a steady recovery in consumer confidence," Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president of national sales at Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement.
Last fall, Hyundai added a third shift at its U.S. assembly plant in Montgomery, Ala., where the Sonata and Elantra are assembled. Most of the extra output was allocated for Elantra production, Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik said in an interview last month.
In February, Hyundai further tilted the total production mix in the Elantra's favor, to 49 percent of total output from 44 percent in January.
In Hyundai's sales statement today, Krafcik called March "incredibly strong," while acknowledging that limited inventories continue to hamper the brand's growth.
"While our plants continue to stretch to hit our demand levels, we still have one of the tightest inventory levels in the industry," Krafcik said.
"This month, you could see the impact of improved Elantra availability," he said, "but our dealers remain constrained on Sonata, which continues as one of the fastest turning mid-sized cars in the industry."