U.S. Auto Industry Sales Rebound in April 2014


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May 1, 2014 In a story published by Reuters, Bernie Woodall and Paul Lienert reported that the U.S. auto industry in April rebounded sharply from a bitter and extended winter, with four of the top six automakers reporting year-to-year gains in sales on Thursday.

Tapping consumer demand that began to ramp up in late March, Chrysler Group LLC, Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co all topped analysts' expectations as they reported double-digit sales increases. General Motors Co also beat the consensus sales forecast, with a more modest 7.0 percent uptick.

Ford Motor Co missed expectations, as its April sales fell 1.0 percent to 211,126.

"Sales momentum from March rolled into April, pushing the industry to its best back-to-back monthly sales pace since the fall of 2007," said Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota brand.

Toyota group sales, including the Lexus and Scion brands, totaled 199,660, up 13 percent. Nissan sales, including Infiniti, were 103,934, up 18 percent.

Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said U.S. auto sales rose 14 percent to 178,652. GM said sales increased 7.0 percent to 254,076.

April was seen as a second strong month in a row, after the cold and snowy weather in January and February dampened car buyers' enthusiasm.

"The economy continues to strengthen," said Kurt McNeil, head of GM's U.S. sales operations. "Retail demand was steady in April, and truck sales and transaction prices were especially strong."

Economists polled by Reuters expected the industry's annual sales rate in April to come in at 16.2 million vehicles, which would be slightly slower than March. Analysts looked for industry sales in April to rise 9 percent.

Negative publicity over GM's recall earlier this of 2.6 million vehicles linked to 13 deaths doesn't appear to have had a significant impact on the company's image or the appeal of its brands to U.S. consumers, said Larry Dominique, executive vice president at industry researcher TrueCar.

All four of GM's U.S. brands reported year-to-year increases in April. Chevrolet and Cadillac were each up 5.0 percent, Buick jumped 12 percent, and GMC rose 13 percent.

Sales at both the Ford and Lincoln brands declined in April - Ford down 0.3 percent and Lincoln off 11 percent.

Sales at Chrysler's Jeep line, which is to be the primary global brand of a merged Fiat and Chrysler expected later this year, rose 52 percent in April from a year earlier.

Jeep U.S. sales of 205,593 in the first four months of the year were 46 percent higher than a year earlier. Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne has set a target of 1 million sales globally for Jeep for the year.

Sales of large pickups remained strong in April.

Chrysler's Ram truck sales rose 17 percent to 36,674. Ford's best-selling F-series pickup climbed 7.0 percent to 63,387, the best April tally since 2006. GM's Chevrolet Silverado jumped 9 percent to 42,755.

Monthly auto sales are seen as an early snapshot of consumer demand for big-ticket items. Analysts and investors will be looking closely at demand for profitable trucks and where profit-sapping incentives offered by automakers are heading.

Editing for Reuters by Lisa Von Ahn and Jeffrey Benkoe

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