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Small Cars Drive Big Sales Gains in April

But Japanese makers begin feeling pinch of shortages.

by on May.03, 2011

Small cars, like the Hyundai Elantra, gained significant ground in April.

It was a big month for the auto industry, though the emphasis was on small cars.

General Motors, Ford Motor Co. along with Hyundai/Kia all posted substantial sales gains during April, Audi meanwhile reporting its best April ever, even as industry giant Toyota continued to stumble.

General Motors sales increased 27% in April, while Ford Motor Co. reported a 16% increase and Chrysler Group sales climbed 22%.  Hyundai reported a whopping 40% sales gain as it continued to woo buyers from other big Asian brands – pushing its market share to a solid 5.7% for the month, triple what it held less than five years ago.

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All three domestic carmakers credited new models for their strong sales last month, primarily small cars like the new Chevrolet Cruze, which gained 180% over the old Chevy Cobalt.  But there was still some strength left in large, luxury and muscle cars, like the Ford Mustang, which came on strong despite the run-up in fuel prices last month.

The improving car market is seen as a sign of an increasing healthy U.S. economy, though observers fret that if fuel prices get too high buyers might pull back in the months to come.  That might also happen, according to analysts, if makers pull back even more on incentives.  Overall, givebacks declined by about 4% in April, according to, with some makers – notably Honda and Toyota – reducing their incentives by 17% or more.


General Motors Sales Surge 27%

Demand builds for small cars, crossovers.

by on May.03, 2011

Cruzin...GM makes big gains with high-mileage small cars like the Chevy Cruze.

General Motors sales increased 27% in April with gains driven by surging demand for GM’s lineup of fuel-efficient passenger cars and crossovers.

While many makers have yet to report their April numbers, preliminary estimates suggest the market showed an overall gain of 19%, with the month’s seasonally adjusted annual sales rate, or SAAR, coming in around 13.4 million and 13.5 million units, according to Don Johnson, vice president, U.S. Sales Operations.

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But Johnson cautioned the SAAR, could fall during second and third quarter because of low inventories at some big Japanese carmakers.

Compared to March, GM retail sales rose 4% last month, even though the maker’s incentive spending – which it had bumped up during the first quarter — decreased more than 10%, Johnson said.