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.
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 TrueCar.com, with some makers – notably Honda and Toyota – reducing their incentives by 17% or more.