Source AP ©

DaimlerChrysler AG sales fall 4.1 percent

U.S. sales of DaimlerChrysler AG vehicles fell 4.1 percent last month as Chrysler Group's decline was tempered by the best March ever for Mercedes-Benz.

Chrysler's passenger vehicle sales, which include the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, fell 4.6 percent to 206,435, while Mercedes sales rose 1 percent to 21,612.

Industrywide, Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. has been gaining market share in the U.S., riding on the success of cars such as the Camry, widely seen as reliable and fuel-efficient, while General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler have worked to turn around their North American operations.

GM, the world's largest automaker, remains the top seller in the U.S. Analysts predict, however, that Toyota will continue to make gains this year and likely will knock Ford off its traditional No. 2 spot in U.S. sales for the full year.

March was the best month for U.S. sales in 2006 at 1.53 million vehicles.

The Associated Press reports unadjusted figures, calculating the percentage change in the total number of vehicles sold in one month compared with the same month a year earlier. Some automakers report percentages adjusted for sales days, which last month was 28 and in March 2006 was 27.

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