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Chrysler US sales up 5% in March, record 36th straight rise

Fiat 500 sales notch 13th gain in a row

Chrysler US sales up 5% in March, record 36th straight rise

New York, March 2 - Chrysler's sales rose 5% in the United States in March compared to March 2012, notching a new record of 36 straight gains, the Fiat-controlled US company said Tuesday. The previous record, 36, was set between February 1992 and December 1994. US sales of the Fiat 500 rose 3% in March over March 2012, the 13th straight gain for the new version of the iconic sub-compact. Last month the CEO of the two companies, Sergio Marchionne, said Fiat's planned merger with Chrysler was "possible" by the end of the year. If The Turin car giant reaches a deal with Chrysler's union retirement trust fund VEBA to buy up its remaining stake in the Detroit No.3, he said, "the merger is technically possible by the end of the year. On January 3 Fiat said it would exercise an option to raise its stake in Chrysler by 3.3% to 65.17%. The second chunk to be taken from VEBA - after a first 3.3% share acquired in July - would cost $198 million, it said. Fiat took control of tottering Chrysler after it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 and it has since increased its stake from 20% after meeting a series of performance targets agreed with the American government.

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