Jeep sales, helped by the new Cherokee, surged 51.6% in April

Jeep sales, helped by the new Cherokee, surged 51.6% in April

US light vehicle sales continued to blossom in April, rising 8.1% compared to the same month in 2013.

Automakers sold 1.39m cars and light trucks which yielded a seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) of 16.04m, a big improvement from the 15.19m recorded in April 2013 but down from the 16.40m posted in March and short of the 16.2m predicted by analysts.

Though most manufacturers improved on their year ago numbers, perhaps the most watched results were those from General Motors. Fears of a consumer backlash from the highly publicised recall proved to be unfounded as growth in GM deliveries beat the forecast of 5.7%, riding solid light truck sales to a 6.9% gain with all four divisions in the black. GM was the only one of the Detroit automakers to surpass analyst projections.

Chrysler racked up its 49th consecutive month of sales gains with a 14% jump, the largest percentage gain of the Detroit carmakers, but shy of the 15.7% forecast. Jeep sales soared 51.6% to become Chrysler’s top performing marque.

Chrysler’s new 200 sedan is scheduled to hit dealer lots in the middle of May which should invigorate the company’s passenger car sales which have fallen 21.7% in the first four months of 2014.

Ford sales fell 0.8% as a 0.4% deficit in Ford brand sales was amplified by a 10.7% slump in Lincoln turnover. Sales of Lincoln’s previously hot MKZ sedan dropped 23.9% in April.

The Detroit automakers lost nearly a point of market share, claiming 46.2% of the total market.

Detroit’s loss was Japan’s gain. Japanese market share rose from 35.1% in April 2013 to 36.3% last month. Resurgent Mitsubishi reported a 46.6% jump based on sales of the new Mirage and Outlander. Toyota and Nissan both enjoyed double-digit growth though Nissan sales fell behind Honda and Hyundai-Kia in April.

Subaru set another sales record.

Both Hyundai and Kia also set new April sales records. Hyundai’s Genesis [redesigned V6 sedan - ed] was named 'Car of Texas' by the Texas Auto Writers Association and Kia’s also very upscale K900 is off to a nice start.

Audi set a new April record with its second best sales month ever, thanks to the new A3 sedan. Audi leapfrogged Cadillac and Acura to take the fourth spot in the luxury segment. Porsche announced a new, all time benchmark despite soft sales of the Boxster/Cayman lines. The Volkswagen brand was again the weakest link in the chain, down 8.4%.

Daimler claimed a new record for Mercedes-Benz which continues to lead the premium segment by a slim margin over the BMW brand. BMW Group’s sales results were bogged down by a 24.1% shortfall posted by Mini.

Land Rover set its own April sales record, pushing Jaguar Land Rover to a gain of 18.9%. Jaguar sales were down but the F-Type continues to prove popular with US car buyers.

Volvo sales rose 3.8% thanks to a 45% improvement in sales of the 60-series sedans.

Maserati continues to bring in triple digit improvements and Maserati CEO Harald Wester notes the factory is receiving new orders at the rate of 3,500 per month. The US remains Maserati’s largest market.

Sales of full size pickups, minivans and luxury vehicles all outpaced the market and all took slightly larger shares in April.

Light truck sales accounted for 51.2% of all deliveries, up from 49.0% in April 2013.

While the growth rate continues to slow, chances for a 16m unit year remain good as the return of clement weather brings customers to dealer lots.

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