DEARBORN, Mich. After a
blockbuster March in which auto sales jumped 21.8 percent from
the previous month and 12.4 percent from a year earlier,
Aprils volume may seem a bit disappointing. But last
month had fewer selling days, which observers said may have
U.S. vehicle sales by the top
seven brands totaled nearly 1.02 million last month, down 16.1
percent from 1.21 million in March but up 1.2 percent from just
over 1 million in April last year, according to an AMM
analysis. Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler Group LLC was the
breakout star in April, recording a 20.4-percent improvement
from a year earlier.
Sales of 3.99 million vehicles
in the first four months of 2012 were 9.2 percent ahead of
nearly 3.66 million in the same period last year.
"The momentum we saw building
throughout the first quarter continued into April," said Robert
Carter, vice president and general manager of Torrance,
Calif.-based Toyota USA Inc., who put the SAAR (seasonally
adjusted annual sales rate) at about 14.4 million vehicles.
At Dearborn-based Ford Motor
Co., U.S. sales analyst Erich Merkle said the small-car segment
continued to hold a high share of industry sales, but volume of
mid-sized cars also rose. Sales of full-size pickups have
fallen since December but are well ahead of spring 2011
Detroit-based General Motors Co.
also discussed its product mix. "We did see very good balance
across most segments," said Don Johnson, vice president of U.S.
sales operations, citing increased sales of luxury vehicles,
pickup trucks, compact crossovers and mid-sized cars. "Despite
some persistent headwindswhether its the European
debt crisis or some uncertainty around fuel priceswe
continue to expect gradual improvement in the economy going
GM has increased its 2012
light-vehicle sales outlook to between 14 million and 14.5
million from a previous estimate of 13.5 million to 14 million,
Johnson said. "Strength in the manufacturing sector and strong
retail sales will continue to lead to more job creation.
Thats going to help more consumers put the recession
behind them, gain even more confidence and drive vehicle sales
higher for both the industry and GM this year."