Chrysler, GM sales jump, Ford falls 1% – USA TODAY

Posted: Thursday, May 01, 2014

Chrysler and General Motors recorded April sales increases of 14% and 7%, respectively, while Ford sales fell 1%.

Total industry new-vehicle sales, combining the Detroit results with tallies from European and Asian brands, were 1.39 million, up 8.1% from April a year earlier.

The annual sales pace translated to 16.04 million, according to Autodata, up from a pace of 15.19 million a year ago.

Automakers viewed April as a key test of consumer confidence after sluggish sales during the brutal wintry months to start the year, which delayed many consumers’ trips to the showroom.

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For GM, an 8% increase in retail sales may calm fears that a highly publicized ignition switch recall could hurt sales. GM CEO Mary Barra said last week that the situation has had “no meaningful impact” on sales so far. The April numbers bear that out.

Chevrolet, whose discontinued Cobalt compact is at the heart of the recall, reported a 5% increase. Cadillac sales also rose 5%, Buick’s were up 12%, while GMC sales increased 13%.

“Retail demand was steady in April, and truck sales and transaction prices were especially strong,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations, in a statement. “As we expected, the economy continues to strengthen. In addition, our award-winning new products are performing well, we have more on the way and our dealers are winning accolades for outstanding service.”

Chrysler’s monthly sales rose from a year earlier for the 49th consecutive month. Ram trucks (up 22%) and Jeep SUVs (up 52%) led the way.

Sales were flat for Dodge and tumbled 21% for the Chrysler brand, which offers only two cars and one minivan.

“The spring selling season is heating up as our Jeep brand had its best monthly sales ever,” said Reid Bigland, head of Chrysler’s U.S. sales, in a statement. “Both of our minivans had a strong April and the Ram pickup truck had its best April ever.”

Despite its sales decline for the month, Ford’s F-series truck line, the most popular vehicle in the U.S., rose 7% to 63,387 units. Average industry incentives on full-size trucks fell $680 for the month, while Ford’s fell $380 to about $3,700 per truck, according to sales officials.

Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickup trucks rose 12% sales collectively. But sales of several small and midsize cars fell, including the Chevrolet Sonic, Cruze and Malibu.

GM truck incentives rose 16% for the month, while Ram truck incentives fell 22% and Ford truck incentives were down 9%, according to Barclays.

“There’s been a lot of volatility between some of the various different automakers in terms of making adjustments to the incentive spend,” said Erich Merkle, Ford’s sales analyst.

“Sales also are supported by improved credit availability, low interest rates and attractive lease offers,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, in a statement.

U.S. consumers continue to favor crossovers and SUVs over cars. Sales of small crossovers and SUVs increased an estimated 22% in April to 179,000 compared with a 5.3% increase for mid-size sedans to and estimated 216,000.


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