US auto sales drop an estimated 5% in April

U.S. auto sales totaled an estimated 1.35 million units in April, down 5% from the same period a year ago, reported automotive analysis firm Edmunds. The seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate (SAAR) for April came in at 17.15 million, according to Autodata Corp., marking the eighth straight month the pace of U.S. sales has topped 17 million. 

The average price of a new car in April was US$ 35,411, up 2% from the same month last year, according to Kelley Blue Book, as consumers continue to favor more pricey crossovers, SUVs and pickups. 

Sales estimates became more complicated to calculate after General Motors announced in March that it would cease monthly sales reports in favor of quarterly reports. Edmunds estimated that GM sold 237,464 vehicles in April, down 3% from the same period a year ago. Bloomberg reported sales fell 2.5% to 3%, citing people familiar with the matter. The Automotive News Data Center split the difference in calculating a 2.7% decline for GM and 237,900 total sales.

Ford Motor Co. sold 204,650 vehicles in April, down 4.7% from the same month last year. Both the Ford and Lincoln brand posted decreases in April, down 4.3% and 12.1% respectively. Ford’s SUVs posted a 4.6% decrease while cars were down 15%. Only the Dearborn-based automaker’s trucks posted increases, in up nearly 1% on a 3.5% gain for the F-Series and a 4.5% increase for the Ford Transit. 

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted a 5% increase in sales to 184,149 units, driven by a record month for its Jeep brand, up 20% from April 2017. That success was driven by gains for the Wrangler, Cherokee and Compass. Sales of the automaker’s Ram trucks brand fell 9% in April. The Chrysler brand fell 18% and Fiat was down 45%.

Nissan sales were particularly low last month, the company posted a 28.1% decline on losses for both the Nissan and Infiniti divisions. The battery-electric Nissan Leaf was the only Nissan nameplate to post an increase, up 10.2%. 

Honda Motor Co. saw sales slip 9.2% in April, with its Honda division down 8.4% and Acura down nearly 16%. Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. sales fell 4.7%, on a 2.1% decrease for the Lexus luxury division and a 5.1% decrease for the Toyota division.

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