April Auto Sales Primed by Demand for SUVs, Trucks
Poised for a single-digit percentage point improvement from a year ago, automakers sold more than 1.5 million new vehicles in the United States in April. The month’s sales pace surpassed other Aprils due to ongoing demand for SUVs and pickups, attractive incentives, and low-interest finance rates. April bests were reported by Nissan and Honda Groups plus Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, and Subaru brands.
Total new-car sales rose 4% from last April, according to automaker sales reports. Adjusted for one extra selling day this year,* the rise was 1% to an estimated 1.51 million units.
Among Detroit-based manufacturers, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (+5.6%) led gains, propelled by Jeep’s 17% surge. Ford Motor Co. (+3.6%) pulled ahead with strong SUV deliveries and another stellar month for the F-Series. Two of Japan’s three majors—Nissan (+13%) and Honda (+14.4%) Groups—set April records, while Toyota Group (+3.8%) also achieved higher sales. In contrast, Korean Hyundai Group (-2.1%) reported a lower combined total vs. its strongest April in 2015.
European automakers’ results were dimmer, although Mercedes-Benz (+0.2%) set an April high and was the luxury brand sales leader, despite Daimler Group’s (-0.4%) dip. BMW brand (-7.4%) deliveries fell as did parent BMW Group (-8.3%), while Volkswagen Group (-10%) struggled with the ongoing diesel engine emissions issue, though Audi and Porsche brands excelled. Independents Mazda, Subaru, and Mitsubishi Motors all posted gains.
Highlights: April 2016 Auto Sales
Following are April 2016 new-vehicle sales highlights for each major automaker:
American Honda—Group (+14.4%) sales rose to 148,829 units in April. Honda brand (+15.1%) set a record with 132,623 deliveries. Both cars and SUVs made gains. Honda got a boost from its redesigned 2016 Civic (+24.5%), with 35,331 unit sales. Accord and Odyssey also saw double-digit gains. Acura (+9%) sold 16,206 units with a record for the RDX.
BMW Group—BMW Group (-8.3%) sales fell to 29,747 units in April. BMW brand (-7.9%) dropped to 24,951 units with strength from the new 2 Series, 5 Series, and X1 and X3 SUVs. Mini deliveries fell 12.4%, and the only gain was from the Cooper/S convertible.
Daimler AG—Group (-0.4%) deliveries dipped to 32,291 units despite an April record for Mercedes-Benz (+0.2%) with 29,236 unit sales. Volume leaders were the C-Class (-15.3%), E-Class (+21.9%), and GLC (formerly GLK) (+44.5%). Van (-6.3%), including Sprinter, deliveries were 2,589 units. Smart (-2.9%) also declined.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—Group sales climbed 5.6% to 199,631 units for a best April total in 11 years. Jeep (+17.5%) and Ram (+12.1%) were stars. Jeep Wrangler, Patriot, Renegade, and Compass posted record sales. Dodge (-3%) and Chrysler (-18%) totals fell, even though their midsize van sales increased. Sales of the new 500X could not offset Fiat’s (-19%) decline. Alfa Romeo sold 60 cars.
Ford Motor Company—Ford Motor (+4%) sold 231,316 units with a 13% gain from its best-selling F-Series pickup (70,774 deliveries). Ford (+3.3%) remained brand sales leader in April with 221,540 unit sales. Car sales slid except for Taurus and C-Max. SUVs that posted increases were the Explorer, Flex, and Expedition. Lincoln (+20.2%) surged on strength from all four of its luxury SUVs (+52.8%).
General Motors—Corporate sales slipped 3.5% to 259,557 units, due to cutbacks in less-profitable rental fleet sales, officials said. All four GM brands posted declines, although Chevrolet and GMC large and midsize pickup sales were strong performers. Buick (-2.8%) dipped despite a gain for Encore (+17%) and 1,090 new Cascada deliveries. Chevrolet (-2.3%) still posted car sales gains for Camaro, Malibu, and the Volt plug-in, plus strong gains for its pickups. Top SUV performers were the Traverse, Trax, and Suburban, plus the City Express compact MPV. For truck brand GMC (-0.1%), Canyon and Sierra pickup sales rose by double digits.
Hyundai Group—Group (-2.1%) sales slipped slightly, as an April record for Kia (+6.1%) could not offset soft sales for Hyundai (-8.5%). Hyundai’s gains came from the new Tucson plus Elantra and Veloster. Kia’s deliveries were bolstered by the new 2017 Sportage (+78.9%) and Forte (+35.6%).
Jaguar Land Rover—Combined sales were flat in comparison to a best April in 2015. Land Rover (-2%) declined, while Jaguar (+1%) F-Type posted its best April sales.
Mazda—Deliveries rose 8.6% in April with strength from niche model MX-5 Miata (+183%) and Mazda 3 (+33.9%).
Mitsubishi—Sales rose 17.7% from last April, led by Outlander and Outlander Sport SUVs (+36%) and the Mirage (+37.2%).
Nissan Group—Nissan Group (+12.8%) delivered 123,861 new cars and light trucks in April. Nissan Division (+13.6%) set an April record, reaping higher totals for Rogue and Murano. Nissan car models also contributed: Altima (+28.8%) and Maxima (+170%) sales soared and the Sentra improved. Nissan Frontier sales were up, while the Titan pickup stumbled. However, Infiniti (+4.5%) officials said Q50 sales surged in double digits and QX50 deliveries rose exponentially.
Subaru—Subaru (+6.6%) aced its 53rd straight month of increases with strength from the Crosstrek, Forester, Outback, and WRX/STI.
Toyota Group—Toyota Group (+3.8%) delivered 211,125 new vehicles in April. Toyota brand (+5%) sold 186,243 units. On the car side, Toyota lost ground. Corolla (+0.4%) and Camry (-0.1%) deliveries were nearly flat, while Toyota SUVs rose 20%—4Runner, RAV4, Land Cruiser, and Sequoia sales were up in double digits on a percentage-point basis. Tacoma sales rose 15.6%, while Prius sales fell (-21.7%). Scion (+54.1%), whose models join the Toyota brand in August, climbed with strength from the new iA and iM. Lexus (-3.8%) delivered 24,882 cars and SUVs, with a double-digit decline on the car side, but gains from all SUVs—especially the top-volume RX Series (+28.7%).
Volkswagen Group—VW Group (-4.4%) deliveries fell despite luxury brand gains. Fallout from the diesel emissions issue continues to harm VW (-9.7%) brand, though Tiguan (+58.4%) set an April record and GTI and e-Golf posted gains. Audi (+5.8%) set an April record with top performances from the A4 and new Q7. Meanwhile, Porsche (+11.2%) reported strong sales of its SUVs.
Volvo—Sales rose 33% to 6,169 units with the XC60 as its top seller.
*April 2016 had 27 selling days, while April 2015 had 26 selling days.