SANTA MONICA, Calif. — evaluated early March car sales and determined that so far this month, sales industrywide are stronger than they’ve been in nearly a year.

“Data from the first eight days of the month indicates that the sales pace is at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of about 12.5 million units — the highest level since August 2009,” noted Senior Analyst Ray Zhou. “Generous incentives from General Motors and Toyota have stimulated this boom, but I anticipate that it will cool off and that the month will end with a SAAR in the low 11 million.”

Thanks to its incentives program, Toyota’s retail market share so far this month is about 16.8 percent, up 10 percent from last March's 15.2 percent, and up 31 percent from 12.8 percent last month when the company’s widely publicized recalls impaired sales. Toyota's daily retail sales rate is running at about 47 percent higher than that of the same period last year, and about 71 percent higher than that of last month.

Chevrolet — another heavily incentivized brand — is also a big gainer so far this month. Its retail market share so far this month is 12.9 percent, up 13 percent from last March's 11.4 percent, and up 14 percent from 11.3 percent last month.

Ford got a late start in the incentives game this month, and Honda has not responded with any offer; both companies seem to be suffering market share losses as a result.

In the first eight days of March, Honda's retail market share was 9.2 percent, down 18 percent from last March's 11.2 percent, and down 11 percent from 10.4 percent last month.

In the same period, Ford's retail market share was 11.7 percent, down five percent from last March's 12.4 percent and down five percent from 12.5 percent last month.