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Ford, GM Sales Skid as Chrysler, Toyota Accelerate

Chrysler records 25th-straight month of sales gains.

General Motors Co. (IW 500/5) and Ford Motor Co. (IW 500/6) saw their U.S. sales skid in April as rivals Chrysler, Toyota Motor Corp. (IW 1000/5) and Volkswagen AG (IW 1000/10) posted strong gains, industry data showed Tuesday.

GM said planned reductions in low-margin fleet sales caused total sales to drop 8.2% to 213,387 vehicles in April.

The largest U.S. automaker pointed out that its retail sales were slightly higher than a year ago, and raised its forecast for the total U.S. market this year by 500,000 vehicles to between 14 million and 14.5 million vehicles.

"We expect gradual improvement in the economy going forward," GM sales chief Don Johnson said in a statement. "Over time, strength in the manufacturing sector and strong retail sales will lead to more job creation. That will help more consumers put the recession behind them, gain even more confidence and drive vehicle sales higher for both the industry and GM."

Ford's U.S. sales fell 5% to 180,350 vehicles in April after months of steady growth.

Chrysler -- which last week reported its strongest quarterly profit in 13 years -- recorded its 25th straight month of sales gains with a 20% rise in April to 141,165 vehicles.

"This business is all about product, and the quality and fuel efficiency of our current vehicle line-up has never been better, which is evident in our results," Chrysler sales chief Reid Bigland said in a statement.

Toyota sales rose 11.6% to 178,044 vehicles in April.

Volkswagen, which is in the midst of an aggressive push to expand in the United States, posted its seventh straight month of gains that topped 30% as sales rose to 37,525 vehicles in April.

"The demand and enthusiasm for our products continues at a strong pace and we are beginning to see the fruits of our investments pay off, marking the best April in over forty years," said Jonathan Browning, chief executive officer of Volkswagen Group of America.

"As our sales continue to outpace the industry, we are investing in our infrastructure to ensure sustained growth."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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