Counting Cars

Small Car Sales Boost SAAR to 13.1 Million Units

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SAAR at 13.1 Million Units with All Reporting

U.S. Sales Summary table

Market movement toward small cars, coupled with shrinking inventories for Japanese auto makers, caused a shift in market share among the top seven auto companies in the U.S., as seasonally adjusted LV sales tracked above 13 million units for the third consecutive month.

General Motors grabbed 20.1% of U.S. LV sales in April, with daily sales (over 27 days) up 21.9% over year-ago (over 26 days), on volume sales of 232,538 units, some 12% over analyst expectations for the month.

GM cut incentives somewhat but a market shift toward smaller cars, and shrinking inventories of Japanese vehicles helped boost the well-positioned Chevy Cruze to best-ever sales, as it continues to ramp up sales after launch.

The Cruze easily outdistanced Ford's segment-entry Focus in April. Ford Motor Co., which had outsold GM last month, finished below expectations, with sales up just 11.3% over year-ago on a daily basis, and total unit light vehicle sales of 186,572.

It's likely that payback for pull-ahead sales in March helped cap the company's market share at 16.2%

Chrysler's DSR was up 17.7%, for a 10.1% share, which helped lift the Detroit 3 17.1% above year-ago.

Korean auto makers Kia and Hyundai leveraged low prices and sufficient small stocks to make large strides as the market looks for fuel efficiency. Kia posted a 50.9% gain over year-ago DSR, while Hyundai brand sales were up 35.1%. Together the two companies accounted for 9.4% of April deliveries.

Toyota, already feeling a pinch on supply of its popular smaller cars, saw daily sales fall 2.4% from year-ago, on volume sales of 159,540 units.

Nissan sales were up 8% over year-ago, but this was slightly below expectations as unit sales fell dramatically from March to April as incentives and lease-sales fell off. The company, which rode high fleet sales and strong incentives to record sales in March, and finished that month in the No. 5 spot overall, fell behind both Chrysler and Hyundai/Kia to the No. 7 spot in April with unit sales of 71,526.

Honda sales rose just 5.7% over year-ago.

Asia-based companies had a 45.1% market share in April.

European auto makers accounted for 8.5% of the market. Volkswagen brand sales were up 18.8%, Audi sales were 3.5% and BMW was 15.2%. Jaguar Land Rover sales were up just below 12% for the month while Mercedes/Smart sales were down 0.1%.

Year-to-date sales in the U.S. topped 4.2 million cars and light trucks, up 19.4% over the first four month of 2010.

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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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