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Automakers Report Higher April U.S. Sales

Autosales 050115

Automakers on Friday reported higher U.S. vehicle sales for the month of April, helped by low gasoline prices as well as continuing strong demand for trucks and utility vehicles. General Motors Co. (GM) and FCA US, LLC each posted sales growth of about 6% for the month, while Ford Motor Co. (F) and Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) reported 5.4% and 1.8% increases, respectively.

GM, the largest U.S. automaker, said that its April U.S. sales rose 5.9% to 269,056 vehicles from 254,076 vehicles in the same month last year.

There were 26 selling days for April 2015, the same as last year.

For April, GM's retail sales were up 5.3%, while fleet sales were up 8% from a year earlier. For the month, trucks sales rose 13% and crossover sales climbed 25%, but sales of passenger car plunged 12% year-over-year reflecting the segmentation shifts that began in the fall of 2014, as well as lower rental deliveries and incentive spending on an ATP basis that is considerably below the industry average.

Among GM's four brands, Chevrolet sales rose 3.4% to 187,837 units, while Cardillac sales grew 13.7% to 15,801 units and GMC sales surged 20% to 47,194 units. However, Buick sales fell 5.2%% to 18,224 units.

"Consumer and commercial customer demand for pickups and utility vehicles has been building since last fall, and that's a clear sign that the slowdown in GDP growth during the winter months was caused by factors that are mostly transitory in nature," said Kurt McNeil, General Motors' U.S. vice president of Sales Operations. "The auto industry continues to be on track to have its best sales year since 2006."

GM said Thursday that it will invest $5.4 billion in U.S. plants during the next three years. Last week, the automaker reported sharply higher first quarter profit and reaffirmed its outlook for the full year 2015.

Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford said it sold 222,498 vehicles in the U.S. in April, up 5.4% from 211,126 vehicles sold in the same month last year. This marks Ford's best April sales performance since 2006. For March, Ford had reported a 3.4% decline in U.S. vehicles sales.

For April, Ford's retail sales were up 7%, while fleet sales were up 1%.

Ford noted that it continues prioritizing retail sales to meet strong consumer demand, resulting in lower fleet and overall sales for the month

Ford's car sales for the month grew 0.8% year-over-year to 71,950 units, while truck sales rose 2.8% to 83,248 units and utility vehicle sales surged 14.5% to 67,300 units.

Sales of Ford's F-Series truck, America's best-selling truck for the 38 straight years and best-selling vehicle for 33 consecutive years, fell 0.9% to 62,827 units.

"Customer demand for our new vehicles continues to be strong, with the F-Series, Mustang, Transit van lineup and Edge driving retail gains in April," said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. "Our SUVs are in particularly high demand, and the new F-150 is off to an outstanding start."

Earlier this week, Ford reported lowere revenue and profit for the first quarter, but reconfirmed its 2015 pre-tax profit guidance.

FCA US, LLC, which changed its name from Chrysler Group LLC in mid-December, said its U.S. vehicle sales for April rose 6% to 189,027 units from 178,652 units in April last year, marking the 61st consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. The company also recorded its best April sales since 2007.

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., a unit of Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. (TM), said its April sales rose 1.8% year-over-year to 203,329 vehicles. Toyota division sales grew 0.5% to 177,453 units, while Lexus division sales increased 11.7% to 25,876 units.

Among other automakers reporting U.S. sales Friday, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (NSANY.PK), said total U.S. sales for April rose 5.7% to 109,848 vehicles from 103,934 vehicles a year ago. Total car sales fell 5% to 61,042 units, while total truck sales rose 23.1% to 48,806 units. Nissan Division sales rose 5.4% year-over-year to 99,869 units, while Infiniti division sales increased 8.8% to 9,979 units.

GM shares are currently trading at $35.04, down 2 cents, while Ford shares are currently trading at $15.71, down 9 cents.

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