Toyota, Honda tout efficiency for monthly gains; Ford cites move away from big trucks for decline.
Dale Jewett – Automotive News – May 2, 2006
DETROIT - Regardless of whether their April sales rose or fell, most of the nation's top automakers cited gasoline prices that are hovering near the $3 a gallon mark as the cause.
U.S. sales of 1,447,848 units in April were down 3.8 percent from April 2005. For the year to date, sales totaled 5,383,744 units, down 0.3 percent.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. crowed that its April sales of 219,965 units, up 4.5 percent from a year ago, were the best ever for a single month. For four months, the automaker's sales are up 6.6 percent to 764,816 units from the same period a year ago.
Lower-cost, high fuel economy vehicles in the Toyota, Lexus and Scion lineups were "showing strength," Toyota Motor Sales President Jim Press said in a statement. For example, the Toyota brand posted sales of 6,393 units of the recently introduced Yaris small car in April.
American Honda Motor Co. said that its April sales of 139,124 Honda and Acura vehicles were the best ever for the month, up 2.6 percent from April 2005 - and that its light trucks had record sales for the sixth straight month. Compared with the first four months of last year, the automaker's sales so far this year are up 6.6 percent to 472,968 units.
At the small end of the size spectrum, Honda sold 3,792 copies of the new Fit car in April, even though sales didn't begin until the latter part of the month.
On the other hand, Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales fell 6.8 percent to 261,100 units in April, as the popularity of its mid-sized sedans was unable to make up for significant drops in truck sales.
The automaker's total car sales rose 8.3 percent for the month to 105,655 units. Sales of the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr totaled 19,548 in April, Ford said, as each of those nameplates set a monthly sales record.
But Ford Motor's total truck sales dropped 14.5 percent in April to 157,067 units. Ford Explorer sales dropped 42.1 percent from a year ago, or 10,028 units, to 13,772 vehicles; Expedition sales dropped 33.4 percent, or 3,100 units, to 6,305 SUVs; and F-series sales dropped 9.3 percent, or 6,618 units, to 64,749 pickups.
Even sales of the popular Ford Mustang dropped in April, down 18.9 percent to 15,868 units.
After four months of the year, Ford Motor's U.S. sales totaled 997,787 units, down 3.9 percent from the same period a year ago. The sales numbers include Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.
General Motors' U.S. sales in April dropped 10.7 percent from a year ago to 339,797 units. For the year to date, the automaker's sales are down 6.7 percent to 1.29 million units.
But GM attributed big pullbacks in sales to fleets and daily rental companies as a key reason for the decline.
Its line of redesigned, full-sized SUVs was selling well, GM said, with deliveries of the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade up 15 percent from March. Overall, GM said its truck sales rose 2 percent in April from a year ago, while car sales fell 18 percent.
Among other automakers:
- DaimlerChrysler's U.S. sales dropped 6.2 percent in April to 211,390 units. The automaker ranked No. 4 for the month behind GM, Ford Motor and Toyota Motor Sales. For the year to date, DaimlerChrysler sales are up 1.1 percent to 824,951 units.
- The Volkswagen group, which includes Audi and Bentley, notched a 9.1 percent gain in U.S. sales in April from a year earlier, to 28,386 units. Sales for the year to date are up 16.0 percent to 100,408 units.
- U.S. sales at Nissan North America fell 5.4 percent from a year ago to 86,720 units in April. For four months, combined sales of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles are down 1.8 percent from a year ago to 349,947 units.
- Mazda's U.S. sales rose 0.6 percent in April to 22,385 units. Sales for the year to date are up 3.9 percent to 89,656 units.
- U.S. sales at Suzuki climbed 32.0 percent in April to 10,669 units. For four months, sales are up 37.6 percent to 37,308 units.
- Subaru's U.S. sales fell 3.9 percent in April to 16,073 units. For the year to date, sales are up 0.4 percent to 61,141.