GM and Ford Post Lower April Sales, Chrysler Up 20 Percent
By David Phillips, Automotive News
UPDATED: General Motors and Ford Motor Co. reported a drop in April sales on Tuesday, while robust demand for Jeeps, pickups and the Chrysler brand lineup helped Chrysler Group post a 20 percent increase in deliveries.
General Motors said its sales dropped 8 percent to 213,387 units, with fleet volume down 25 percent. GMC was the only GM division to post higher sales last month, while deliveries at Chevrolet fell 8 percent.
At Ford, sales dipped 5 percent, with demand off 13 percent at Lincoln and 5 percent at the Ford division. Ford said its car sales dropped 11 percent, while demand for utility vehicles and pickup trucks slipped 1 percent last month.
It was the first month Ford has posted an overall decline in U.S. sales since May 2011.
It was the 25th consecutive month that Chrysler sales have increased, and the 11th straight month the gain was 20 percent or more.
In addition to new and refreshed models, Chrysler is offering some of the industry's highest incentives. TrueCar.com estimates Chrysler's discounts averaged $3,071 per vehicle last month, down 6 percent from March but up 10 percent from April 2011.
Across the industry, incentives averaged $2,446 per vehicle last month, down 5 percent from March but up 6 percent from a year ago, TrueCar said.
Other automakers are scheduled to report April results later Tuesday amid indications the industry's rebound remains on track.
U.S. light vehicle sales are forecast to climb 1 percent to 1.16 million units in April, based on a survey of analysts by Bloomberg.
There were three fewer selling days last month compared with April 2011. GM said April marked just the second time in the last 10 years that there have been three fewer selling days compared to the previous year period.
The seasonally adjusted sales rate is expected to reach 14.4 million in April, based on a poll of 41 analysts from Reuters, up from 13.1 million a year ago and on par with a 14.4 million sales rate in March.
Chrysler on Tuesday projected the annual sales rate will hit 14.6 million units in April.
The growth in car deliveries is expected to outpace the gain in light truck volume in April.
The spring run-up in gasoline prices has boosted consumer demand for cars and other fuel-efficient vehicles.
Ford said demand for vehicles equipped with EcoBoost engines jumped 77 percent in April. Sales of the Fiat 500 minicar hit 3,849 last month, and 2012 deliveries have reached 12,699 units, Chrysler said.
Cars are expected to account for 55 percent of industry light vehicle sales in April, up from 54 percent in March and 49 percent over the past two years, Barclays said in a report last week.
Automakers started April with car inventories that were below normal--a 44 days supply, while truck supplies stood at a 66 days supply.
Easing credit terms, pent-up demand and a steady, though bumpy, recovery in the U.S. economy is giving a lift to new car and truck sales.
During the first quarter, new cars and light trucks sold at an annual rate of 14.5 million.
U.S. light vehicle deliveries fell to 10.4 million in 2009 before rising to 11.6 million and 12.8 million the following two years. The average annual sales total for most of last decade was above 16 million.
The healthy pace of deliveries in the first months of 2012 has prompted some analysts and automakers to raise their sales forecasts to as high as 14.8 million for the full year.
GM--citing first quarter industry volumes--increased its full-year light vehicle sales forecast to 14 million to 14.5 million units, up from a range of 13.5 million to 14 million units.
"We expect gradual improvement in the economy going forward," Don Johnson, head of U.S. sales operations for GM, said in statement. "Over time, strength in the manufacturing sector and strong retail sales will lead to more job creation. That will help more consumers put the recession behind them, gain even more confidence and drive vehicle sales higher for both the industry and GM."
Content provided by Autoweek.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at firstname.lastname@example.org.