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U.S. Auto Sales Up Year Over Year, Down in March

Many U.S. automotive manufacturers posted stronger April year over year sales, but revenues fell short of expectations in March.

The latest report from Autodata shows total U.S. auto sales grew 20% year over year for April, while revenues decreased 8% compared to March. Following is a summary of highlights from the report:

Chrysler: up 25% year over year; up 3% for March 2010
Ford: up 25% year over year; down 9% from March
GM: up 6% year over year; down 2% from March
Honda: up 13% year over year; up 5% from March
Hyundai: up 24% year over year; down 4% from March
Nissan: up 35% year over year; down 33% from March
Toyota: up 24% year over year; down 16% from March

Industry analysts put April’s numbers in perspective, noting that March’s performance represented pent-up demand for autos due to inclement weather in February. At the same time, U.S. auto sales one year ago were impacted by aftermath of bankruptcy filings by GM and Chrysler as well as more challenging economic environment overall. This phenomenon, experts say, may have skewed the April 2010 numbers.

All things considered, Chrysler and GM are rebounding nicely. Chrysler, after months of declining sales, showed its largest year-over-year increase in nearly five years. And GM, which has begun paying back its government loans, has generated strong sales momentum since the consolidation of its brands last year. According to Steve Carlisle, vice president of U.S. sales operations, GM posted a combined retail sales increase of 33% for its core brands—Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac—in March, propelling unit sales to 183,091 during the month. On a year-over-year basis, this represents a 20% increase. For the calendar year-to-date, combined total sales for Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac are up 31%.

According to Carlisle, the continued year-over-year sales increases are largely being driven by the company’s launch products, which now represent one of every four GM vehicles sold at retail. Year-to-date, combined sales of the Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Equinox, Buick LaCrosse, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX are up nearly 300%, at 110,176, compared to the vehicles they replaced.

“Clearly, our launch vehicles are hitting the mark with consumers who are looking for bold styling, quality, safety and fuel efficiency,” Carlisle explained. “But our results aren’t limited to just our newest vehicles. Sales of our full-size pickups and our mid-sized crossovers continue to strengthen.”

Retail sales of GM’s full-size pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado, Avalanche and GMC Sierra were up a combined 20% in April, and are up 8% year-to-date. Retail sales of GM’s mid-sized crossovers–the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia–increased 26% in April and are 15% higher year-to-date. Additional GM highlights:

  • Chevrolet dealers reported sales of 135,369–17 % higher than April, 2009.
  • Retail sales for the brand were 32% higher for the month.
  • Retail sales of the Chevrolet Malibu surged 38% for the month–the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases.
  • The Chevrolet Silverado, Equinox, Traverse and Camaro all posted year-over-year retail sales increases of 20% or more.
  • Buick sales rose 36 % for the month to 12,181–the seventh consecutive month of double digit year-over-year sales increases.
  • Retail sales for Buick rose 42% during April. Buick LaCrosse had its best retail month since 2005, with an increase of 237% for the month. Year-to-date sales of the LaCrosse have increased 154%, with 42% of sales coming from consumers who replaced a non-GM vehicle.
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  • GMC sales of 24,224 were 18% higher than last year, while retail sales for the brand were up 37%. Sales were led by retail sales of the GMC Terrain, which were up 537% for the month versus the vehicle it replaced.
  • Cadillac sales increased 36% to 11,317, while retail sales improved 31% for the month. April retail sales of the SRX were 504% higher than a year ago, and are up 405% for the year. The SRX continues to bring new customers to the Cadillac brand.
     

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