Nissan and Subaru posted sales increases during April, but Fiat Chrysler and Toyota sales fell in April as deliveries of new vehicles continued drop under pressure from rising prices and higher interest rates.
For Subaru of America, April was another solid month with a 7.7% increase compared with April 2018, and the best April in the history of the company. The automaker also reported year-to-date sales of 214,042, a 5.5% gain compared with the same period in 2018.
“April saw another Subaru monthly sales record and the reveal of our all-new 2020 Subaru Outback at the New York International Auto Show, both strong indicators of a record sales year to come,” said Thomas J. Doll, Subaru of America president. “And thanks to the amazing efforts of our retailers, both the current Outback and new Forester maintained a very strong sales pace in a highly competitive marketplace.”
Nissan Group, which this spring is beginning to reverse several months of sales declines, saw sales increase by 9% thanks to a strong showing by the Nissan brand. Infiniti sales declined by 5.2%.
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Honda also posted a modest sales increase of 0.2% in April thanks to strong sales of its utility vehicles.
“As industry sales continue to level off, we are increasing our share of the market through the strength of our car and truck line-ups and our disciplined approach to sales,” said Henio Arcangeli Jr. senior vice president of Automobile Sales at American Honda Motor Co. “
FCA said sales dropped 6% as five of the six brands, including Jeep, posted negative numbers for the month. Retail sales accounted for 129,382 vehicles and fleet accounted for 25% of total sales. On a year-to-date basis, fleet accounted for 27% of total sales.
The Ram brand achieved its fourth consecutive month of record sales for the year, as April sales rose 25% to 53,811 vehicles. Ram pickup sales also had their second consecutive month of record sales with 49,106 vehicles sold. General Motors and Ford Motor Co. no longer report sales on a monthly basis, but Ram’s strong showing suggests GM is continuing to lose ground in the critical full-size pickup market.
“April marks the start of the spring selling season and we anticipate strong consumer spending as we move through May,” U.S head of Sales Reid Bigland said.
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“The industry may be shaking off the first-quarter sluggishness, but shoppers are coming into showrooms and buying. We sold more than 300 Jeep Gladiators, which are now starting to arrive in showrooms across the country, and we expect our Gladiator count to continue to rise, reflecting both ongoing demand and the fulfillment of the 4,190 orders taken in early April for the Jeep Gladiator launch edition.”
Toyota reported a decrease of 4.4% on a volume basis and a decrease of 8.2% on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis versus April 2018. Lexus division posted April sales of 21,360 vehicles, down 1.3% on a volume basis and down 5.3% on a DSR basis.
Rising prices and tightened credit conditions continued to place pressure on the new vehicle market in April, according to Edmunds.
The average price of a new car is expected to climb to $36,718 in April, the highest level seen so far in 2019. April also marked the fourth straight month of the year that interest rates hovered above 6% — according to Edmunds data, the annual percentage rate (APR) on new financed vehicles is expected to average 6.28% in April compared to 5.58% last year and 4.4% five years ago.
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“April sales were a bit dampened by the harsh financing conditions we’ve been seeing in the new car market,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of industry analysis. “Shoppers are really starting to feel the pinch as prices continue to creep up and interest rates loom at post-recession highs.”