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Trucks continue to drive US auto sales

Keywords: Tags  U.S. auto sales, pickup trucks, Ford Motor, Erich Merkle, Kenneth Czubay, Toyota, Bill Fay, Chrysler F-Series trucks

CHICAGO — The top-selling automakers in the United States sold 1.11 million vehicles in April, up 9.5 percent from the same month last year but down 11 percent from sales of more than 1.25 million vehicles in March, the strongest month so far in 2013.

Year-to-date sales of more than 4.28 million vehicles by the top seven automakers were 7.2 percent ahead of the first four months of last year, an AMM analysis shows.

April’s seasonally adjusted annual sales rate, including medium- and heavy-duty trucks, was estimated in the mid-15-million-vehicle range, according to Erich Merkle, U.S. sales analyst for Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co.

"When we dig down at (vehicle) segments, small cars increased slightly to an estimated 22.7 percent of the overall industry compared with just over 22.4 percent in March," he said. But full-size pickups—supported by replacement demand, the economic recovery and housing—continue to outpace the rest of the industry by a substantial margin, Merkle said. "To date, this segment is up 20 percent and is growing at a rate almost three times higher than the overall industry."

F-Series pickup sales grew 24 percent in April, Kenneth M. Czubay, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said. "This was our best F-Series April sales month since 2006. April now represents our 21st consecutive month of year-over-year gains in the segment."

Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. group vice president and general manager Bill Fay said that the industry had "another solid truck month."

Toyota saw truck sales rise 10.1 percent in April compared with a year earlier, and year-to-date sales were 14.7 percent ahead of the first four months of 2012.

April’s retail results indicate there is "still plenty of pent-up demand and customers taking advantage of widely available financing options," said Fay, who expects the auto industry will continue to outperform the general economy in the months ahead.

Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler Group LLC posted its best April sales since 2007. Sales of Ram trucks jumped 49 percent compared with April 2012, while Dodge Durango sales soared 65 percent in the same comparison.

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