April proved to be a good month for the U.S. auto industry. Light-vehicle sales for the fourth month of 2014 increased by 8 percent to almost 1.4 million.
Thanks to April’s strong sales, light-vehicle sales in 2014 has now risen 3 percent to 5.14 million units.
The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) jumped to 16.1 million from 15.2 million in 2013. April marks the fourth time in the last nine months that the annualized sales rate exceeded 16 million. March’s SAAR (16.4 million) remains the best showing since November 2013.
According to automakers, sales surged despite weak fleet deliveries due to pent-up demand. Many consumers were held back by the severe winter weather experienced in the first two months of the year, but they have proceeded with their purchases in springtime weather. Meanwhile, rental auto companies kept their purchases limited.
Major automakers whose sales advanced last month are Nissan Motor Co., Chrysler Group and Toyota Motor Corp.
Nissan Motor Co.’s sales climbed 18 percent, setting an April U.S. record of 103,934 vehicles. Light truck deliveries went up 11 percent while car deliveries went up 24 percent. The Nissan brand’s sales grew by 19 percent while the Infiniti division’s sales advanced by 17 percent.
Chrysler Group saw its sales advance for the 49th consecutive month. Jeep’s U.S. sales went up 52 percent, mostly due to strong demand for the redesigned Cherokee, to 59,754 units . Deliveries grew 22 percent at Ram while deliveries for Fiat increased 10 percent. Light-truck sales also jumped 34 percent.
However, not all Chrysler sales moved in the upward direction. Dodge sales were flat, while the Chrysler brand’s sales dropped 21 percent. Car deliveries also slid by 26 percent.
Toyota Motor Corp.’s sales rose 13 percent: Toyota sales rose 12 percent while Lexus sales added 28 percent. According to Toyota, truck demand was particularly strong in April.
General Motors Co. saw its U.S. deliveries increase despite the ongoing recall debacle. GM posted a 7 percent gain, thanks to an 8 percent increase in retail deliveries and a 5 percent increase in fleet deliveries. Volume grew for GMC (13 percent), Buick (12 percent), Chevrolet and Cadillac (both by 5 percent). April saw the first delivery increase for Cadillac in 2014.
GM was helped by a 22 percent rise in full-sized SUV demand, as well as higher volume of both the Chevrolet Silverado pickup (whose sales went up 9 percent) and the GMC Sierra (whose deliveries rose 21 percent).
Other gainers include Subaru and Hyundai. Subaru enjoyed its 16th consecutive month of a double-digit sales increase, posting a gain of 22 percent. Thanks to high demand for the Santa Fe and Sonata, Hyundai Motor America enjoyed a 4 percent volume increase and set an April record of 66,107 deliveries.
Other brands that posted gains in April are BMW (9 percent), Rolls Royce (6 percent), Audi (19 percent), Jaguar (9 percent) and Land Rover (28 percent).
Meanwhile, April was not as pleasant for Ford Motor Co. and the Mini brand. Ford sales dropped 1 percent, and Mini deliveries plunged by 24 percent.