Auto sales stay strong despite slight dip

April had fewer selling days than it did last year, which is one reason the industry isn't fazed by the decline.

By Kim Peterson May 1, 2012 1:31PM
Image: Couple shopping for a new car © Tetra Images/Getty ImagesUpdated 4:45 p.m. ET

There was just no way auto sales could continue the breakneck pace of the past few months. The slowdown came in April, but the numbers are still solid enough that analysts are not worried.

General Motors (GM) and Ford (F) saw a small drop in sales for April. Chrysler, however, continued to post huge gains, and Toyota (TM) saw its numbers finally come back after a year of inventory problems and shortages.

GM investors were pleased, sending shares of the company up nearly 1.5% Tuesday to close at $23.31. Ford shares fell less than 1% to $11.23, and Toyota's ADR shares fell 2% to $80.15.

The automakers began to solidify their projections for industrywide sales this year. GM upped its forecast for the industry to between 14 million and 14.5 million cars and tricks sold in 2012. Its previous outlook was 13.5 million to 14 million. Ford said it expects a sales rate in the mid-14 million range. And Chrysler forecast 14.6 million vehicles.

Economists have predicted a rate of 14.4 million this year, according to Reuters.

The predictions show faith that the economy will continue to perform this year and that consumers will remain open to buying big-ticket items like cars and trucks. Businesses are also expected to maintain fleet purchases.

For April, the seasonally adjusted annual rate for light vehicles came in at 14.4 million units, according to industry tracking firm Autodata. That's up from 13.2 million units a year earlier. Total industry vehicle deliveries rose 2.3% from a year earlier, but fell 16% from March of this year.

Analysts gave April a bit of a pass because it had fewer selling days than it did last year. April 2012 had more Sundays, for example, and cars don't sell as well on Sundays, according to The Associated Press.

Here's how the major automakers performed. The list will be updated as more numbers come in:

General Motors
Vehicles sold: 213,387
Change from a year earlier: 8% decline
Of note: Fleet sales fell 25% due to the timing of deliveries to rental-car agencies.

Ford
Vehicles sold: 180,350
Change from a year earlier: 5% decline
Of note: The Fiesta subcompact fell 44% in sales, which the AP called a puzzling trend with high gas prices. Ford is also seeing the impact in sales after discontinuing the Ranger small pickup.

Toyota
Vehicles sold: 178,044
Change from a year earlier: 25.5% increase
Of note: Toyota has almost caught up to Ford in U.S. sales, quite a turnaround after a year of inventory and supply issues.

Chrysler
Vehicles sold: 141,165
Change from a year earlier: 20% increase
Of note: April was the 11th straight month of sales gains of at least 20%.

Honda (HMC)
Vehicles sold: 122,012
Change from a year earlier: 10% increase
Of note: The Accord, Civic and CR-V stealing the show.

Nissan
Vehicles sold: 71,329
Change from a year earlier: 0.3% decrease
Of note: Top-seller Altima will get a 2013 refresh in June

Hyundai
Vehicles sold: 62,264
Change from a year earlier: 1% increase
Of note: All-time April sales record

Kia
Vehicles sold: 47,550
Change from a year earlier: 1% increase
Of note: All-time April sales record

Volkswagen
Vehicles sold: 37,525
Change from a year earlier: 31.5% increase
Of note: The Jetta sedan remained the volume leader, with sales at 13,754.

Mercedes Benz
Vehicles sold: 22,336
Change from a year earlier: 24% increase
Of note: Highest April on record

Tags: FgmTM
2Comments
May 1, 2012 6:50PM
avatar

"GM upped its forecast for the industry to between 14 million and 14.5 million cars and tricks sold in 2012"

 

They are selling tricks now?  Isn't that illegal?  I guess not when the govt owns you!!

May 1, 2012 6:24PM
avatar
" Of note: Toyota has almost caught up to Ford in U.S. sales, quite a turnaround after a year of inventory and supply issues." ..... AND RECALL PROBLEMS !!! (you bet if it was a domestic that this hack writer wouldn't forget to mention it !!!)
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