An unusually warm winter led some analysts to fear a decline in spring auto sales, although their predictions have yet to materialize. In April, overall U.S. auto sales continued to grow; unadjusted for business days, they rose 2.3 percent from April 2011 and 10.3 percent for the year-to-date.
Among international brands, Volkswagen saw the sharpest improvement with sales rising 31.5 percent to 37,525 vehicles – their best April in 40 years. Audi experienced a 15 percent increase in sales, and Toyota saw sales up 13.5 percent from April 2011. Honda’s sales were down 3 percent and Nissan, which cut its incentives by an average of $330 per vehicle, fell 0.9 percent. Because AIADA calculates its sales numbers without adjusting for business days, and April 2012 had three fewer selling days than April 2011, those numbers are somewhat skewed.
“Incentive spending is trending down, and sales continued to climb in April,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “That’s a good sign for both dealers and the economy.”
Internationals Hold Strong Share of Market
International brands occupied 55.3 percent of the U.S. auto market, a slight decrease from the 56.3 percent share they enjoyed last month. They accounted for 654,086 units, compared with 791,169 in March. For the first four months of this year, international brands have averaged a strong 55.6 percent share of the U.S. auto market.
Asian brands were up 3 percent over April 2011 and held a 45.3 percent market share. They are up 10.2 percent for the year-to-date. European brands sold 118,017 units and were up 18.8 percent over last April and 23.3 percent for the year-to-date. Domestic brands sold 530,361 units and occupied 44.8 percent of the market; overall sales were down 1.5 percent from last April, but up 8 percent for the year-to-date.
Internationals Capture Majority of Top Ten Spots
Just as they did last month, international nameplates held six of the top ten-selling vehicle spots in April. The Toyota Prius moved into the fifth spot, up from number six in March. With sales of 25,168 units, the vehicle is up 101.7 percent over April 2011. The Toyota Camry maintained its hold on the second spot as the top-selling car in America; sales for the vehicle were up 20.9 percent. The Honda Accord followed in third with sales up 25.6 percent. The Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Honda CR-V – in sixth, seventh, and eighth places, respectively – completed the list of top ten-selling vehicles for the month. Sales for the top ten averaged a 15.1 percent improvement overall.
With sales of 334,139 units, Americans continued to purchase more SUVs and crossovers than any other vehicle type, although the segment was down 1.2 percent from last April. In second place, the mid-size car segment sold 323,095 vehicles and was up 8.3 percent. The segment leads in year-to-date improvement, with sales up 19.5 percent. The small car segment also made a strong showing in third place, selling 224,415 units; it was down 0.4 percent from last month, but is up 14.1 percent so far in 2012. The large vehicle segment experienced the biggest drop off, with sales down 93.7 percent from last month and 89.2 percent for the year-to-date.
U.S. auto sales continue to grow, with the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for light vehicles estimated by AutoData Corp. at 14.4 million units, versus 13.2 million units a year ago.