US Auto Sales: Chrysler up 20%; Ford down 5%; GM down 8.2% in April image

Chrysler saw big U.S. sales gains in April, while Ford said its sales declined 5% for the month and GM sales fell 8.2% from a year ago.

Chrysler Group LLC reported U.S. sales of 141,165 units, a 20 percent increase compared with sales in April 2011 (117,225 units), and the group’s best sales in the month of April since 2008.

In announcing the sales figures, Chrysler noted that it “beat the industry average sales increase for the 14th consecutive month,” while several models broke records.

“April was another strong month for Chrysler,” said Reid Bigland, chief executive of the Dodge brand and head of U.S. sales.

“This business is all about product and the quality and fuel efficiency of our current vehicle lineup has never been better, which is evident in our results.”

Chrysler’s compact vehicles continued to sell slowly despite high gas prices. Dodge Caliber sales fell 65 percent, while Jeep Compass sales were off 11 percent.

Overall, Ford Motor Company posted 5 percent lower volume in April.
Sales of the Fiesta subcompact dropped 44 percent , a puzzling trend when gas prices remain high. The Focus small car is likely biting into some Fiesta sales, and it’s facing new competition from the Chevrolet Sonic and Prius C.

Including medium and heavy trucks, Ford expects the overall industry to post an annual sales rate in the “mid-14 million” range.

General Motors had a challenging April in the U.S., reporting an 8% decline in total sales due largely to three fewer selling days than the same month a year ago.

Based on higher than expected first quarter industry sales and expectations that the U.S. economy will continue to grow, GM is increasing its full-year light vehicle sales forecast to 14.0 million – 14.5 million units from 13.5 million – 14.0 million units.