Counting Cars

April U.S. Sales up 19.9%, Dip Below Incentive-Fueled March Levels

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See Ward's Sales Day Summary Table - updated throughout the day.

See final U.S. April Sales story.

April U.S. Light Vehicle sales came to 979,576, bringing the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales 11.2 million units.

Auto makers continued to show marked year-over-year growth, outpacing the depths of the downturn while falling 7.9% below March's incentive-driven sales total.

American Honda Motor Co., Inc. showed the biggest month-to-month sales increase of all auto makers, selling 113,697 LV in April, a 5% gain on March sales. It was Honda's largest sales volume since August and the company's biggest non-Clunker-related monthly tally since August of 2008.

Chrysler Group LLC showed the largest gain of the three Detroit auto makers - with a 25.1% increase over year-ago sales which were dragged down by the recession and the company's imminent bankruptcy. Chrysler was also one of only a handful of auto makers in April to show a month-to-month increase in LV sales, selling 95,430 cars and light truck - 3.3% more than it delivered in March.

Chrysler's uptick was due in part to an increase in Caravan and Town & Country deliveries during Chrysler's "Minivan Month" promotion. But increased fleet sales likely played a role in the company's higher-than-expected sales. The Dodge Charger had its largest sales month ever in April, while the Dodge Avenger nearly doubled its sales tally from March.

GM Light Vehicle sales were up 7.2% on a daily basis versus year-ago, with total deliveries of 183,760 units, down 2.3% from March. The auto maker grabbed an 18.7% share of the market, primarily with sales from its four core brands – Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac. A year-ago GM took 21% of the market with sales from eight brands, including Saab, Hummer, Saturn and Pontiac.

GM, which showed discipline during March’s incentive frenzy, easily bested Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., which experienced some payback for its incentive-driven spike in sales in the prior month.

Toyota finished with LV sales of 157,439 units, for 16.1% share of the market after coming within just 50 units/day from topping GM last month. That put Toyota up 24.4% over year-ago, but 15.8% below last month.

GM also increased its lead over Ford Motor Co., which reported LV sales 23% above year-ago and down 8.9% from March. Ford's LV sales of 165,111 were more than enough to reclaim second place from Toyota but the total represented an 18,528 unit gap between Ford and GM - the biggest difference in sales gap between the automakers since January.

Combined, Detroit auto makers were up 16.9% over year-ago and down 3.8% from March.

Volkswagen of America, Inc. was the third of three companies to show month-to-month gains. The company’s Volkswagen and Audi brand sales were up 39.3% over like-2009 and 5.6% above March. VW’s 3.3% market share was its second highest market share since December 1981.

Daimler AG (including Mercedes and Smart brands) was 19% above year ago and down 8.9% from March, while fellow European car maker Porsche was 5.7% below year ago, and 8.3% below March levels.

Nissan Motor Corp. sales fell 33.2% from March - giving Hyundai Group (up 24.4% versus yr.-ago, down 4.4% from March ) the lead over Nissan for the first time since July.

Fuji heavy Industries Ltd. sales of its Subaru brand were up 48.2% versus year ago, and off a relatively meager 2.5% from March. Mazda LV sales were 17.3% over like-2009, but down 18.4% from prior month.

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John Sousanis

John Sousanis oversees WardsAuto data operations as Director of Information Content, and is Ward’sAuto sales analyst. Follow John on Twitter @CountingCars.  

Haig Stoddard

Haig Stoddard is a veteran automotive industry analyst. His current focus is North America production and longterm sales forecasting.
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