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April Sales Buoy Industry – Economic Outlook

Industry planners sharply upgrade forecasts for rest of 2012.

by on May.01, 2012

Gaining momentum, the new Chevrolet Sonic.

It was the sort of month when even the “losers” could see the bright side.  Despite a modest decline in its own April sales, General Motors significantly increased its full-year forecast for an industry that continues to gain sales momentum despite near-record fuel prices and a variety of uncertain economic indicators.

If anything, the U.S. market showed strength in virtually all categories, and though more motorists clearly were looking for high-mileage small cars, demand surged for even some of the industry’s biggest products – sales of work trucks like the Ford F-150 and Nissan Titan suggesting to some observers that construction-related jobs are again on the rise.

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A variety of makers turned in strong numbers, Volkswagen reporting a 40-year sales high, Audi and Hyundai both achieving records for the month.

While Honda didn’t quite reach that level, the maker did gain 9.2%, year-over-year, while Japanese rival reported April sales were up 11.6%.  That’s good news for manufacturers that suffered the better part of a year of significant declines in the wake of the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.


April Sales Soar

But there are a few setbacks.

by on May.01, 2012

While the Nissan brand slipped in April, its Infiniti luxury brand gained on demand for the new JX crossover.

While several major makers have yet to weigh in, preliminary numbers confirm that the U.S. new car market continued gaining momentum in April – though there were a few setbacks, notably for the two largest of the domestic makers.

But it is likely to wrap up as another month of record-setting sales for at least some makers, including Volkswagen of America, which enjoyed its best April in more than 40 years. Chrysler, meanwhile, posted yet another a double-digit sales increase. Preliminary numbers for Japanese makers are mixed, Nissan reporting a rare down month while Toyota, still recovering from last year’s shortages, reported an 11.6% gain for the month.

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But both Ford Motor Co. and General Motors posted sales declines as the automakers reduced fleet sales. Despite the setback, however, GM raised its full-year light vehicle sales forecast to the range of 14.0 million to 14.5 million units from earlier estimates of 13.5 million to 14 million units.  A growing number of industry analysts now believe 2012 could wrap up with sales in the low to mid-14 million range.


Car Sales On Track for Solid April

Preliminary numbers suggest momentum keeps building.

by on Apr.26, 2012

Japanese makers, in particular, appear to be having a very good month. But incentives for products like the Toyota Camry have also ramped up.

Final sales figures for April aren’t due out until next week but expectations are building for another month of automotive market momentum.

Light vehicle sales in the U.S., including fleet, are expected to reach 1.2 million units for the month, up 3.4% from April 2011, according to a forecast from True, an online data information center.  That would work out to another month in which the Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate or SAAR will exceed 14 million units – notably ahead of most forecasts going into 2012.

With other indicators providing mixed signals, analysts see the steady growth of the U.S. automotive market as a critical to the nation’s economic recovery.

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While forecasts for April vary, TrueCar – which relies on data provided by a national network of dealers – expects the SAAR to reach 14.6 million for the month, up from 13.2 million in April 2011 and 14.4 million in March 2012. Fleet and rental sales are expected to make up 18% of total industry sales in April 2012, TrueCar estimated in its forecast.