Top Automakers Experience April to Remember

May 7, 2013

Increased demand for pickups and new models helped push U.S. new-car sales up 9 percent in April. The seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate (SAAR) reached 14.9 million units, marking the first time since October that the SAAR has failed to top 15 million units, according to Automotive News.

Subaru of America, Kia Motor Co. and Hyundai Group had their best April sales months ever; while Chrysler Group and Ford Motor Co. experienced their best April sales  since 2007; and General Motors had its best April since 2008, according to the automakers.

“From an industry standpoint, continued retail sales growth indicates the underlying strength of the market, which is a great sign for the months ahead, especially with new products, low interest rates and plenty of pent-up demand,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager of Toyota division at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.

Subaru posted a 25 percent sales increase compared to April 2012. The automaker attributed the increase to 2014 Forester sales, which climbed 65 percent over last year.

Nissan North America posted a 23 percent year-over-year sales gain.  The Japanese automaker benefited from sales of the new Sentra (up 45 percent), the Rogue (up 39 percent), the new Altima (up 42 percent) and the new Pathfinder (up 215 percent).

Ford’s April sales increased 18 percent compared to last year. The company’s car sales were up 21 percent and utility vehicles sales climbed 16 percent. Ford’s truck sales increased 16 percent, led by a 24 percent sales gain from the F-Series truck. Sales of F-Series pickups continue to grow as the housing and construction industries rebound, according to Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service.

GM and Chrysler Group both posted 11 percent sales gains in April. GM’s truck sales, which include pickups, vans and SUVs, were up 17 percent. Sales of large pickups increased by 23 percent. Sales of GM’s crossovers climbed 17 percent.

Chrysler said that seven of its vehicles set sales records in April. Dodge Durango sales increased by 65 percent; Jeep Grand Cherokee sales were up 27 percent and Ram Truck brand sales jumped 49 percent. The all-new Dodge Dart compact car had its best sales month since the vehicle was launched last June.

BMW Group said its sales were up 8 percent last month, which contributed to growing luxury vehicle sales. While U.S. auto sales increased 6 percent in the first quarter, the luxury market more than doubled overall industry gains with a 15 percent increase. Luxury-vehicle sales are being driven by the growth in household wealth related to gains in both the stock and real estate markets, according to a market report from Kelley Blue Book.

American Honda said its sales increased 7 percent compared with April 2012. Sales of the CR-V, up 12 percent from last year, set an April record, while sales of the Accord climbed 26 percent. Despite posting a modest 2 percent sales gain, sales of Hyundai’s compact Elantra rose 45 percent, while sales of its full-size Azera sedan jumped 47 percent.

Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp. said its sales declined 1 percent, while Volkswagen’s sales fell by 3 percent. It was the first time in 18 months that Toyota posted a sales decline, and the first time VW sales have dropped in 31 months. The dip in VW sales could be due to the automaker’s lack of participation in the truck market, according to Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst for Edmunds.

Kia Motors America’s sales neither increased nor decreased in April. The Optima mid-sized sedan led Kia’s sales for the 17th consecutive month. The Optima and the Sorento CUV accounted for nearly 50 percent of the automaker’s total sales.

Overall sales of domestic cars in the U.S. jumped 1 percent compared to a year ago, while light-truck sales increased 11 percent. The top-selling cars in April were the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion. The top-selling light trucks were the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram pickup and Ford Escape, according to WardsAuto Group.