Despite the slow economy, consumers continued to flock into auto dealerships last month, bringing automakers’ monthly sales figures higher for the month of April, according to recently released auto sales data.
Leading the lot was Nissan with sales jumping 18.3 percent from over a year ago, boosted by the demand for its redesigned Rogue small SUV. Chrysler followed suit, booking a 14 percent gain, but narrowly missed expectations. Toyota saw a 13.3 percent increase in sales, thanks to the double-digit sales of its trucks.
General Motors Co., also reported a 7 percent increase in April sales, as supported by higher demand for its Buick Encore small SUV and Chevy Silverado pickup truck. This was despite the series of safety recalls the automaker had to deal with in the past months that gave it a bad publicity. Hyundai car sales likewise went up 4 percent at the back of higher SUV sales, while Honda Motor Co managed to eke out 1 percent gain from strong demand of its Sonata mid-sized cars.
Ford and Volkswagen were not lucky, though, as their car sales fell by 0.7 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively.
Researcher Autodata Corp said that automakers managed to sell a total of 1.39 million cars for the month of April, 8 percent higher than the previous year.
Seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate (SAAR) for the month was at 16.0 million vehicles, lower than the 16.4 million sales pace recorded last March, but higher than 2013.
According to Bill Fay, vice president of Toyota, should this pace hold up until the end of the year, 2014 will be the first year that the auto industry will go beyond the 16 million car and truck sales since it fell in 2007.
The recently released auto sales data not only provides a look at the state of US consumer confidence, but also the overall health of the country’s manufacturing sector. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country’s auto industry already hired 34,300 workers in the 12 months before March or an increase of 11,000 workers since the beginning of the year.
Despite strong industry figures, however, the auto sales data does not reflect the health of the overall economy. While automakers are experiencing good sales gains since 2007, the country’s economy is still flat with Gross Domestic Product only registering an increase of 0.1 percent in its seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter–its second lowest quarterly performance since the end of recession in the middle of 2009.