The downward trend in auto sales continued in April for most automakers. Audi, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan and Toyota reported sales declines compared with last April. BMW and Hyundai were the only automakers to post higher sales than what was reported for the same month last year. Many automakers attributed the sales decline to soft demand for trucks and SUVs, but they remained optimistic that passenger cars, crossover vehicles and certified used-vehicles would remain popular with consumers.
Audi of America announced sales for the month of April totaling 7,730, a decrease of 4.6 percent from last year’s figures of 8,106 vehicles.
This year total sales are down 2.9 percent to 28,286 vehicles, compared with 29,134 in the prior-year period.
Audi certified pre-owned (CPO) sales increased 56.4 percent to 3,175 units in April. CPO sales for this year were 12,084 vehicles, an increase of 46.4 percent over 2007.
"Nearly 11,000 consumers chose to buy an Audi in April. Combined new-vehicle and pre-owned sales point to a powerful endorsement of our brand in a tough market," said Johan de Nysschen, executive vice president of Audi of America.
Rebounding from March, BMW Group U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported a sales increase for April and attributed the uptick to new products, such as the BMW M3 and BMW 1 Series, which launched in the spring. BMW vehicle sales of 31,448 in April, an increase of 9.6 percent from the 28,692 vehicles sold in the same month of 2007.
Year-to-date sales were down 4 percent to 99,977 vehicles versus the 104,125 sold January through April of 2007.
BMW brand sales were up 5.6 percent to 26,735 vehicles. In April, the company sold 25,310 vehicles. However, year-to-date sales declined 8.2 percent to 85,100, compared to the 92,670 reported in the same period a year ago.
Monthly sales of BMW brand automobiles increased 3.2 percent in April to 20,930 versus 20,290 in 2007.
Sales of BMW Sports Activity Vehicles increased 15.6 percent to 5,805 vehicles. Last April, the company sold 5,020 vehicles.
MINI USA reported a 39.4 percent increase in April sales to 4,713 cars. For the same period last year, the company sold 3,382 cars.
Chrysler LLC reported April sales of 147,751 units, a 23 percent decrease from the same period last year. Total sales were affected by slowing truck and SUV demand and a dramatic cut in daily rental-fleet sales.
"The overall decrease in April sales, particularly of pickup trucks, demonstrates that the auto industry continues to be under pressure from the national economy," said Jim Press, Chrysler’s vice chairman and president.
Chrysler brand sales decreased to 30,670, 40 percent below the 51, 874 units reported in April 2007.
Jeep brand sales dropped 33,733, 18-percent below the 41,200 vehicles sold last year. However, the Jeep Patriot increased to 6,348 units sold in April 2008 compared to 2,904 in April 2007, a jump of 119 percent.
Dodge brand sales fell 17 percent from 100,463 in April 2007 to 83,348 in April 2008. The brand’s four-cylinder Journey posted sales of 6,667 units, an increase after its third month on the market.
Total Ford Motor Company sales, including Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo, totaled 200,727, down 12 percent from the year before.
Ford, Lincoln and Mercury sales totaled 189,247, down 12 percent compared with a year ago. Retail sales were down 7 percent and daily rental sales were down 32 percent.
However, the Ford Focus continued its upward sales trend from March and reached the highest total April sales since 2000. The Focus posted an 88 percent jump in sales from April 2007 to 2008.
Retail sales for the company's crossovers were 11 percent higher in April than a year ago, but sales for sport utility vehicles were 36 percent lower and trucks were 19 percent lower compared with the same period a year ago.
GM’s retail sales were down 11.5 percent and total sales for the month were down 16 percent. Retail car and crossover sales were up more than 9 percent.
"Our sales performance in mid-cars and crossovers shows the power of new products to attract consumers – even in a tough market," said Mark LaNeve, vice president, GM North America vehicle sales, service and marketing.
April 2008 sales of GM brand certified used vehicles, including GM, Cadillac, Saturn, Saab and HUMMER, reached 44,479 units up nearly 7 percent from April 2007 results.
Year-to-date sales are 168,087 vehicles, down 7 percent from the same period last year. However, the sales increase in fuel efficient cars, crossovers and certified used-vehicles could not make up for soft truck demand and a sharp decline in fleet deliveries impacted by the American Axle strike.
American Honda Motor Co. Inc. sold 135,180 vehicles in April, a decrease of 1.3 percent over April 2007 sales of 126,419 vehicles.
The slight sales decline reflects the tougher market, but Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda, said he considered that an opportunity.
"In difficult times, consumers make very rational, thoughtful purchase decisions, which play into Honda's core brand strengths of fuel economy, safety and quality," he said.
American Honda posted April car sales of 82,525 units, up 7.1 percent over last year, and April light-truck sales of 52,655 units, a decrease of 12.1 percent compared to year-ago results.
Individual April records for the Fit, Civic, Civic Hybrid and CR-V helped push the Honda Division sales to an April record of 122,155 units, up 1.4 percent over year-ago results.
The Acura Division posted April sales of 13,025 vehicles, down 20.9 percent.
Year-to-date American Honda total vehicle sales rose 0.5 percent over the same period last year, to 487,822 units.
Hyundai Motor America reported sales of 39,280 for April, a 0.4 percent increase over the same period last year.
"In a pretty tough economy, we are pleased that sales were slightly up over April 2007," said Dave Zuchowski, the company’s vice president of national sales. "Car buyers showed strong interest in our more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Accent, Elantra and Sonata sold well, reflecting concerns with the overall economy and rising fuel prices."
The Accent reached sales of 4,115 units for April, a 40 percent increase over the same period last year. While the Elantra posted sales of 9,981 units, a 22 percent increase, and the Sonata reported sales of 11,001 units, a 5 percent increase in April.
Nissan North America reported combined sales of Nissan and Infiniti reached 75,855, a decrease of 1.6 percent compared with last April’s sales of 71,124 units.
Nissan-brand vehicles saw sales of 66,318 units in April, an increase of 0.1 percent compared with 61,179 during April 2007.
Infiniti sales reached 9,537 units in April 2008, an 11.5 percent decline from April 2007.
Toyota reported April sales of 217,700 vehicles, a decrease of 4.5 percent from last April. However, there were increased sales in passenger cars and hybrids from the Toyota and Lexus Division.
"Smaller vehicles are going over big," said TMS president Jim Lentz. "With oil prices at record levels, compact cars and hybrids continue to lead the way."
The Toyota Division posted April sales of 194,350, a decrease of 2.7 percent from last April. Passenger cars recorded April sales of 121,097 units, up 7.2 percent over the same period last year. Light truck sales were down 15.7 percent, with April sales of 73,253 units.
Scion posted April sales of 11,260 units, up 41.5 percent versus the year ago month.
The Lexus Division reported April sales of 23,350 units, a decrease of 17.1 percent from the same period in 2007. Lexus passenger cars reported April sales of 13,766 units, a decrease of 22.1 percent from April 2007. Lexus light trucks reported April sales totaling 9,584 units, down 8.6 percent from the year-ago month.
TMS posted April sales of 32,841 hybrid vehicles, an increase of 42 percent from last April. Toyota Division posted sales of 31,013 hybrids, while Lexus Division posted sales of 1,828 hybrids.
TMS said worldwide cumulative sales of the Toyota Prius have surpassed the 1 million mark, with nearly 1,028,000 units sold at the end of April. The Prius was launched in Japan in 1997 and began selling in Europe, North America and other markets in 2000.