GM March sales rise 11.4 percent on strong demand

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co <GM.N> said on Friday that its U.S. sales rose 11.4 percent in March as higher gasoline prices drove demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The U.S. automaker said total U.S. sales in March for its four brands rose to 206,621 vehicles from 185,406 last year. Including its four discontinued brands, GM sales rose 9.6 percent.

Auto sales represent one of the first snapshots every month of U.S. consumer demand, and 34 economists surveyed by Reuters estimated March sales would rise 12 percent on average. Other automakers are scheduled to report March U.S. sales later on Friday.

March is traditionally a stronger sales month than February, but lower incentive spending by GM, Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> and others likely resulted in a lower growth rate than February's stronger-than-expected 27 percent gain.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman and Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit, editing by Matthew Lewis)