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April Showers Automakers with Demand for Trucks, Crossovers

Many makers setting new records during the month.

by on May.01, 2015

Ford President Joe Hinrichs is thumbs up with good reason: F-150 sales were up 8% in April, helping Ford to a 5% jump for the month.

April showers resulted in a surge of buyers looking for new trucks and crossovers, which benefitted the bottom lines of nearly every automaker.

Ford finally broke out of something of a sales slump in April as it posted a 5% sales increase and General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Audi all reported gains as sales of new vehicles boomed with the beginning of spring.

Automotive Insight!

The Dearborn, Michigan-based company said retail sales in April were the best in nine years.

“Customer demand for our new vehicles continues to be strong, with the F-Series, Mustang, Transit van line-up 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.”

With gasoline prices sticking below the $3 per gallon mark for more than six months, the movement towards trucks and crossovers is turning into something of a stampede for Ford’s SUVs, which had a record-setting month. This included record sales of the all-new Edge, up 78 % which is now turning on dealer lots in just 10 days.

F-Series, America’s best-selling truck, posted an April retail sales gain of 8% – with the continued plant changeover to the new F-150 and limited supply.

Even the Lincoln brand enjoyed an jump in sales: 25%, in fact. The company rode SUVs to the increase: a 36.4% leap by Navigator and the new MKC accounted for 22.9% of the brand’s sales last month.

FCA US LLC reported U.S. sales increased 6% as the company posted its best April sales since 2007 as the group extended its streak of year-over-year sales gains to 61 consecutive months.

“We launched the spring selling season with nine vehicle sales records and a 6% year-over-year increase that extends our sales streak to 61-consecutive months of sales gains,” said Reid Bigland, head of U.S. Sales. “Our all-new Jeep Renegade small SUV is off to an exceptional start with more than 4,200 units sold in its first full month in the market helping to propel our Jeep brand to its best monthly sales ever.”

Nine FCA US vehicles set records in the month of April, including the Dodge Challenger, which posted its best monthly sales ever. Challenger sales were up 32% in April compared with the same month a year ago. Likewise, the all-new Jeep Cherokee had its best monthly sales ever last month with its 27% increase.

(Automakers regain momentum in April. For more, Click Here.)

The Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Patriot, Chrysler 200, Dodge Dart, Dodge Journey, Ram pickup truck and Ram ProMaster each recorded their best April sales ever. The 200 midsize sedan achieved its record with a 348% year-over-year increase, the largest percentage increase of any FCA US vehicle in April, Bigland said.

Nissan Group set an April record with total sales – Nissan & Infiniti – of 109,848 units, an increase of 5.7% over the previous April.

“Nissan’s new Rogue and Murano crossovers couldn’t have launched at a better time. New car buyers continue to shift to crossovers, driving Nissan’s overall light truck sales up 24 percent and the company’s best-ever April performance,” said Fred Diaz, senior vice president, Nissan U.S. Sales & Marketing and Operations.

After strong sales in March, Toyota posted a 1.8% sales increase in sales during April, with much of that coming from Lexus sales that were up 12%. Audi also reported a sales increase for the 52nd consecutive month.

“This spring, our dealers continued to show robust sales performance across the Audi product portfolio,” said Mark Del Rosso, executive vice president and COO, Audi of America. “Strong demand in particular for models such as the Audi Q3 and the A3 gives us confidence that we will continue to draw new customers to our brand well into the summer,” he said.

(Click Here for details about Ford cutting shifts, 700 jobs.)

GM checked in with a 6% sales jump year-over-year during April.

“At GM, truck and crossover sales have been strong all year, thanks to our increasingly deep and broad product portfolio,” said Kurt McNeil, General Motors’ U.S. vice president of Sales Operations.

GM’s trucks and crossovers posted double-digit sales increases in April, up 13% and 25%, respectively. Thanks to new products, GM’s estimated share of the retail market for midsize pickups is now 31% calendar year to date, according to J.D. Power PIN. For small crossovers, it is 55% and for large SUVs it is 74%.

“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,” McNeil said. “The auto industry continues to be on track to have its best sales year since 2006,” he said.

Falling gasoline prices and continued pent-up demand have spurred spending on new cars and light trucks, with average retail transaction prices rising more than 3 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago, according he National Automobile Dealers Association, which noted the average retail transaction price for a new vehicle was $33,189 through the first quarter.

(To see more about why sales were strong in March, Click Here.)

“Consumers clearly feel confident enough in the economic recovery to make big-ticket purchases,” said NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly. “While we’ve seen a pullback in investments in other industries, particularly in oil-related industries, automotive retailing remains a growth industry.”

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