CHICAGO --- Despite limited inventory of some of its best-selling models,  including Jeep and heavy-duty Ram trucks, Chrysler Group on Tuesday reported its best monthly U.S. vehicle sales in March.

A total of 171,606 vehicles were sold in the United States last month, an increase of 5% from March 2012.

It was the company's 36th consecutive month of gains in year-over-year sales and the strongest sales since December 2007, "in spite of limited inventory last month on some of our most popular models," said Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales.

Chrysler, the third-largest U.S. automaker, is majority controlled by Italian automaker Fiat after emerging from a U.S. government-backed bankruptcy reorganization in 2009.

Sergio Marchionne, who heads both companies, has said a full merger would take place in 2014.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013