Update 12:35 p.m.
Ford, Chrysler and General Motors all posted higher auto sales in February.
Ford sales were up by 14% compared with February 2011. Chrysler sales soared by 40%. GM posted a slight 1% increase.
Erich Merkel is an analyst with Ford Motor Company. He says rising gasoline prices influenced which vehicles sold last month.
“What we saw was really strong momentum into more fuel efficient vehicles and toward smaller vehicles," says Merkel.
Merkel expects the trend toward more fuel efficient vehicles will continue, as gasoline prices are expected to continue to rise.
Ford Motor Co. says its U.S. sales rose 14 percent in February thanks to big demand for its Focus compact car.
Focus sales more than doubled over last February to 23,350. It was the best February for the Focus in 12 years.
But most of Ford's cars saw sales declines, including the Fiesta subcompact and Fusion and Taurus sedans. The newer Focus might have grabbed sales from those cars.
Truck sales were strong thanks to cash-back offers and other incentives. Ford said F-Series pickup sales were up 26 percent.
Chrysler says its U.S. sales rose 40 percent last month as all its brands posted strong gains.
The company says February marked its 23rd straight month of sales increases.
Sales of the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan more than quadrupled.
General Motors says its U.S. sales rose 1 percent last month, led by its small cars.
Analysts had expected the company to post lower sales compared with last February, when it offered big discounts.
GM says its small cars led the sales increase as gas prices spiked in February. The Chevrolet Sonic subcompact had its best month, with sales of almost 8,000. Chevy Silverado pickup sales rose nearly 2 percent to just over 32,000.