WASHINGTON -- Automakers General Motors (IW 500/5), Chrysler and Toyota (IW 1000/8) scored U.S. sales gains in April, extending the rebound from bad winter weather, while Ford (IW 500/8) sales unexpectedly slipped.
GM, the largest U.S. automaker, said total sales rose 7.0% in April from a year ago, to 254,076 vehicles.
Kurt McNeil, GM's U.S. vice president of sales operations, was upbeat about demand.
"The economy continues to strengthen," he said in a statement. "Retail demand was steady in April, and truck sales and transaction prices were especially strong."
Chrysler Group, the U.S. unit of Italy's Fiat (IW 1000/30), clocked in a 14% jump year over year with 178,652 vehicles sold, its best April performance since 2007.
For GM and Chrysler, sales gains were higher than estimates of 4.7% and 12.3%, respectively, from analysts at Edmunds. com, a car-shopping website.
Ford Motor Company, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, reported sales fell 1.0% from a year ago, to 141,950 vehicles. Edmunds.com analysts had forecast a 4.6% increase.
Ford's sales numbers came the same day the company named chief operating officer Mark Fields to replace Alan Mulally as CEO effective July 1.
Toyota & Nissan Sales Surge
Japanese rival Toyota, the world's top automaker, said U.S. sales increased 9.0% to 199,660 vehicles.
"Sales momentum from March rolled into April pushing the industry to its best back-to-back monthly sales pace since fall of 2007," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.
Fellow Japanese automaker Nissan (IW 1000/31) said U.S. sales shot up 18.5% to an April record of 94,764 vehicles.
Honda's (IW 1000/29) sales fell 2.9% from last year's record in April to 96,704 vehicles.
"Even though our April sales were off slightly, it was still one of the 10 best sales months in American Honda history," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of sales for American Honda. "The market is very competitive, but there are still plenty of people out shopping for cars and trucks."
South Korean firm Hyundai Motor (IW 1000/56) said its U.S. unit sales rose 4.4% to 66,107 cars and trucks.
Volkswagen's (IW 1000/7) U.S. sales skidded sharply lower. The German company posted a 10.4% drop from a year ago, to 30,831 units.
Overall, U.S. auto sales in April are expected to have extended their spring rebound after unusually harsh winter weather in January and February hammered sales.
Edmunds.com predicted a 9.1% rise in US auto sales in April following the 5.7% gain in March, with hot demand for sport utility vehicles leading the way.
"Despite a move toward fuel-efficient vehicles in recent years, car shoppers continued to show high interest in trucks and SUVs," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com. "SUVs, in particular, are not only selling well, but they are selling at a quicker pace than cars, pickups, or vans. SUVs are selling on average 20 days faster than other cars and trucks."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014