Chrysler Canada says vehicle sales rose by two per cent in March over last year, boosted by record sales of its Jeep Cherokee and Ram Trucks.

The automaker says it sold 24,649 vehicles, also due to sales of the Chrysler Town & Country.

Sales of Ram Trucks were up five per cent, while Jeep sales increased by 41 per cent compared with figures from March 2013..

Minivan sales of the Chrysler Town & Country came in at 1,111 units, up 40 per cent from the number sold in the same month last year.

Collectively, the Canadian-made Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country account for 70 per cent of the minivan market in Canada (or seven of every 10 minivans sold), the company said.

Chrysler was the first automaker to report Canadian March sales Tuesday, while General Motors said the release of its sales figures would be delayed several hours "due to a computer systems issue that impacted dealer sales reporting."

Meanwhile, Nissan says its latest sales numbers amounted to 10,470 units, an increase of 23.7 per cent from last year. The Nissan brand sold 9,404 units, while the Infiniti brand increased 4.1 per cent year-over-year.

U.S. sales surge late in month

In the U.S., new car and truck sales picked up speed halfway through March, culminating in a strong final weekend. Toyota dealers had their two best sales weekends of the year at the end of the month, the company said.

"We're optimistic that momentum will spring us into April," said Bill Fay, who manages the Toyota division in the U.S. Toyota's sales rose five per cent in March.

The month saw some big gainers. Chrysler's sales rose 13 per cent on demand for Ram pickups and the new Jeep Cherokee SUV. Subaru's sales were up 21 per cent; its new Forester SUV jumped 53 per cent to nearly 14,000.

Nissan's sales were up eight per cent. Ford's rose three per cent, with a five-per cent gain for the F-Series pickup compensating for lower car sales.

Volkswagen's sales fell three per cent, while Hyundai's sales dropped two per cent. Both have older models that are having trouble competing with newer rivals.

March sales helped rescue what was otherwise a disappointing first quarter. Analysts had predicted flat growth for the first three months of this year after harsh weather in January and February hurt sales.