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Auto sales still driving toward high level

February threw snowstorms and other roadblocks at the auto industry, but U.S. sales of new cars and trucks are still poised to hit their highest level in more than a decade this year. Freezing temperatures, disruptions at West Coast ports and rising gas prices took a bite out of U.S. auto sales last month. Still, most automakers reported gains, and analysts say lost sales should be made up as the weather warms in March. Toyota and Subaru reported double-digit sales increases over last February, and Hyundai surprised with sales up 7 percent. But others came in below analysts’ expectations. Chrysler, General Motors, Honda and Nissan all saw gains of 6 percent or less. Ford’s U.S. sales dropped 1.9 percent. Volkswagen’s sales fell 5.2 percent. Industry sales were up 5.3 percent to 1.25 million, according to Autodata Corp. That fell short of expected gains of 8 or 9 percent, but the mood in the industry remained positive.

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