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Chrysler has its best April in 4 years; Ford, GM down From The Detroit News

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Chrysler’s Fiat brand posted its biggest gain, with sales leaping 336 percent year-over-year on sales of the Fiat 500. (Getty Images)

General Motors Co.'s sales in the U.S. were down 8.2 percent for April as Ford Motor Co. reported last month's U.S. sales were down, too, by 5 percent. Meanwhile, Chrysler Group LLC said Tuesday its sales were up 20 percent last month, making for its best April in four years.

GM sales were down to 213,387 primarily due to a 25 percent drop in fleet sales that the automaker said was because of the timing of rental customer deliveries. The company said its retail sales were essentially flat. GM also pointed out that April 2012 had three fewer selling days than the same month a year ago — only the second time that has occurred in the past 10 years.

GMC posted a sales increase of 4.5 percent during the month, driven by a 20 percent increase in sales of the GMC Sierra pickup and a 9 percent jump for the GMC Terrain crossover. Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac all saw total sales fall during April compared to the same month a year earlier.

The automaker said it had strong sales of the Chevrolet Sonic at 6,387 units and Buick Verano at 2,989. The Chevy Volt sold 1,462 units, a figure that was strong nationally, but was hindered by the limited availability of vehicles in California, where the automaker is launching a model that qualifies for carpool lane access.

"GM's newest models — the compact Buick Verano and subcompact Chevrolet Sonic — are bright spots, but there are only few of those to report this month," Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst for Edmunds.com, said in a statement. "Cadillac remains under construction, as it awaits the introduction of its two new models. Buick, one of last year's fastest-growing brands, is back in decline, and even Chevrolet had a down month."

GM said it is boosting its 2012 forecast for light vehicle sales to 14 million to 14.5 million units from 13.5 million to 14 million unit sales.

"We expect gradual improvement in the economy going forward," Don Johnson, GM vice president of U.S. sales operations, said in a 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."

Ford Motor Co. sales in the U.S. totaled 180,350 in April, compared to 189,778 a year ago. Ford brand vehicles were down 4.7 percent, while its Lincoln brand fell 12.8 percent as the luxury brand continues to struggle. Ford's car sales fell 11.2 percent, while its trucks and SUV sales were nearly flat — down just 1 percent.

Fiesta sales fell 44 percent, while Focus sales were up 12.5 percent. Ford Escape sales fell 20 percent, while Edge sales were up 12.4 percent.

"Strong demand for fuel-efficient vehicles continues," said Ken Czubay, vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service for Ford. "J.D. Power research shows fuel economy is the top reason for purchasing new cars this year. Ford is seeing this firsthand with strong sales of our most fuel-efficient vehicles, including a 77 percent increase in vehicles with EcoBoost engines in April."

Chrysler sold 141,165 cars and trucks for April.

"April was another strong month for Chrysler as our sales increased 20 percent, we recorded our 25th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth, and we reported our strongest quarterly profit in 13 years," U.S. sales chief Reid Bigland said Tuesday in a statement. "This business is all about product and the quality and fuel efficiency of our current vehicle lineup has never been better, which is evident in our results."

The company's Fiat brand posted the biggest gain, with sales leaping 336 percent year-over-year. Its sole offering, the Fiat 500, was just being launched a year ago. But the Chrysler 200, Dodge Challenger and Jeep Wrangler also set new sales records for April, while Dodge Avenger sales reached a new high, with sales up 47 percent.

Chrysler estimated the overall industry's seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate was 14.6 million units.

Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. said its 178,044 sales in April jumped 11.6 percent from the same month a year ago.

Volkswagen reported its best April sales in the U.S. since 1971, when it was the leading import brand in the country. VW's sales rose 31.5 percent last month to 37,525 cars and light trucks.

The German automaker's U.S. vehicle sales are up 38 percent year-to-date.

April marks the 14th consecutive month that VW sales have outpaced the U.S. auto market, said Jonathan Browning, chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America. He said the outlook was for continued moderate economic growth.

Nissan North America said its total sales were down 0.3 percent in April from the same month a year ago. The company sold 71,329 vehicles in the U.S. Its Nissan division saw sales fall 0.9 percent to 64,200 units, though the Rogue and Versa set new April sales records. Its Infiniti division sales were up 5.4 percent, to 7,129 units.

Kia Motors America posted its best-ever April sales figures of 47,550 vehicles, up about 1 percent from last April, and has posted 20 straight months of sales gains, the company said.

"Our record April performance is the latest illustration of how far the Kia brand has progressed as we continue to attract new customers with our unique value formula of world-class design, outstanding fuel efficiency, premium features and cutting-edge technologies," Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of Kia Motors America and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia said in a statement.

Hyundai Motor America sales jumped 1 percent to a record 62,264 units in April, the second-best sales month in the carmaker's history, following March's all-time record.

"Never has a relatively flat sales month felt quite so good," Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai Motor America's executive vice president of national sales, said in a statement Tuesday. "We definitely felt some pullback from an overheated March sales pace, but really picked up some momentum at the tail-end of the month and finished with a flurry to set another all-time volume record. Vehicle availability continues to improve and our announcement just last night of the assembly plant expansion in Alabama will provide much needed production increases for our highly fuel-efficient Sonata and Elantra sedans, while generating nearly 900 new jobs for the local economy."

American Honda said its overall sales fell 2.2 percent in April compared to the same month a year ago. Sales for the Honda division were down 3 percent, while Acura's sales were up 4.9 percent — fueled by a strong jump in sales of the midsize SUV, the RDX. Sales of the all-new RDX are up more than 65 percent from the same month a year earlier.

Honda saw sales of its Accord jump 25.6 percent from April 2011, while the company said sales of the CR-V of 23,627 units set a record for April.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120501/AUTO01/205010374#ixzz1tiumv6vJ
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