Spurred by strong sales in the United States, the global light vehicle selling rate remained strong in April, according to an analysis by JD Power-LMC Automotive Forecasting Services.

The seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) of global light vehicle sales during April is estimated at 56.2 million units – up slightly from March’s rate of 55.8 million units.

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, global sales have hovered between a 55 to 56 million-unit selling rate, which is a consistent high level.

“The US auto market continues to exceed expectations with, April US sales up 7.2% compared to a year ago,” said JD Power-LMC chief economist Dr. Robert Schnorbus.

“Aggressive incentives and a stronger-than-expected economy have helped US sales for the past several months.”

Canada’s sales are getting a similar boost, with April sales up 10.9% compared with a year ago. Sales in Mexico were up 3.6%.

“The European market showed a small year-over-year sales gain in April,” said JD Power-LMC director of research Charles Young.

“But the comparison is with a weak month last year, and with no Easter holiday sales in April this year, it translates to a very disappointing selling rate.

“The UK market, though still strong, is past its peak and is no longer able to offset weakening Southern European demand.”

Korea continued to enjoy a period of exceptionally strong vehicle demand, with sales up 22.6% year over year. Japanese sales continued to slide, with sales down 1.4% compared with last year.

Despite an economic crisis in Argentina, the selling rate in South America remained broadly stable in the first four months of 2002.

Year-over-year sales in MERCOSUR were down 15.8%.