Detroit Three Buoyed by Strong April Sales, but VW Stumbles | Edmunds

Detroit Three Buoyed by Strong April Sales, but VW Stumbles


Just the Facts:
  • General Motors, Ford and Chrysler reported strong April car and truck sales, but Volkswagen of America stumbled with a 10.3 percent decrease over prior year sales.
  • "Car-buying conditions are strong and will continue to release pent-up demand," said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations for General Motors. "The economy continues to move forward and important car and truck launches are just getting underway."
  • Among the bright spots for the Motor City: strong sales of the Chevrolet Spark, Dodge Durango and Ford Fusion.

DETROIT — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler reported strong April car and truck sales, but Volkswagen of America stumbled with a 10.3 percent decrease over prior year sales.

"Car-buying conditions are strong and will continue to release pent-up demand," said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations for General Motors, in a statement. "The economy continues to move forward and important car and truck launches are just getting underway."

Among the bright spots for the Motor City: strong sales of the Chevrolet Spark, Dodge Durango and Ford Fusion.

"As Edmunds.com predicted, April 2013 vehicle sales are coming in the best since April 2007," said Michelle Krebs, Edmunds senior analyst. "The Detroit Three had a particularly strong month — all had double-digit sales increases that look as if they will outpace the industry's growth. Strength is coming from full-size pickup trucks, which may well have gained a full percentage point of market share from a year ago.

"The housing recovery, well underway, is fueling higher sales of full-size pickup trucks coupled with serious pent-up demand that has lagged cars in releasing. The average truck on American roads is even older than the typical car."

Ford's April sales rose 18 percent, the best April sales since 2007 and ahead of expectations. Cars were up 21 percent and utility vehicles and trucks enjoyed a 16 percent increase. Ford said the Fusion and Escape set April sales records, and the F-Series posted a 24 percent increase.

"F-Series pickups continue to build on their momentum as the housing and construction industries rebound," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, in a statement.

Lincoln sales increased 21 percent in April, with the Lincoln MKZ setting an all-time monthly sales record, with 4,012 vehicles sold. Ford said the MKZ broke the 4,000-vehicle mark for the first time.

Chrysler also reported its best April sales since 2007 with 156,698 units sold. Chrysler reported an 11 percent increase compared with sales in April 2012.

The company noted that the Dodge Durango's 65 percent sales increase was the largest sales gain of any Dodge brand vehicle in April and second only to the Ram Cargo Van's 110 percent sales gain among Chrysler Group vehicles.

Earlier this week, Chrysler reported first-quarter earnings down 65 percent from a year earlier, in part because of costly product launches of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2013 Ram Heavy-Duty pickup trucks.

General Motors reported an 11 percent increase in sales compared with a year ago. GM sold 237,646 vehicles in the U.S. in April. The automaker said strong sales of the Chevrolet Spark and double-digit sales increases for the Buick Verano, Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Sonic drove a 31 percent increase in sales of GM mini, small and compact cars.

Volkswagen of America reported 33,644 units delivered in April, a 10.3 percent decrease over prior year sales.

"While it was a challenging month, particularly in the compact and midsize sedan segments, we remain solidly focused on our long-term growth strategy," said Jonathan Browning, Volkswagen of America CEO, in a statement. "In spite of segment challenges with robust competition, the Jetta sedan and Passat showed strength in April and so far this year."

Krebs notes that VW may be "missing out on the truck boom." In addition, the midsize sedan segment is among the most competitive in the industry.

"Accord, Fusion and Camry have a commanding lead in our data in terms of shopping consideration and purchase intent," Krebs said.

Among the Japanese automakers, Nissan's sales rose 23 percent to 87,847 in April. Toyota reported monthly sales of 176,160 units, down 1.1 percent.

Edmunds says: The Detroit Three appear to have lots of momentum heading into the summer selling season.

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