Ford, General Motors See Sales Surge in April

Ford, General Motors See Sales Surge in April
Ford, General Motors See Sales Surge in April

With the U.S. economy showing ongoing signs of recovery, General Motors reported car sales in April rose 6.4% compared to a year ago, as the resurgent automaker continues to rebound from last year's descent into bankruptcy. The Detroit-based auto giant reported Monday it sold 183,997 vehicles last month, including its orphaned Saturn, Pontiac, Saab and Hummer brands.

Among its four remaining "core" nameplates -- Buick, Cadillac, GMC and Chevrolet -- GM said it sold 183,097 cars and trucks, a 19.7% improvement over the 152,997 vehicles sold during same period a year ago. Newly introduced models, such as the Chevrolet Camaro and Equinox, along with the Buick LaCrosse sedan, and GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX crossover vehicles, helped drive sales momentum, GM said. Sales of those models were up nearly a combined 300%, compared to vehicles they replaced.

Chevrolet dealers reported selling 135,369 vehicles, a 17% bump from the same period a year ago, when the nation was mired deep in recession. Sales rose 36% at both Cadillac and Buick, GM said, while its GMC truck unit saw a year-over-year increase of 18%.

In addition to the company's new-model offerings, Steve Carlisle, the company's U.S. sales vice president, said improved domestic sales are being aided by slow but steady economic recovery. Carlisle said GM has more new models on the way, including two new compacts -- the Buick Regal and Chevrolet Cruze -- slated to debut next quarter.

Ford Gallops Ahead -- Except for Mustang

The story was similar at Ford Motor (F), which reported sales motored ahead 25%, on the strength of new models. The Dearborn, Mich., company said it sold 162,996 vehicles last month thanks largely to beefed up demand for its Ford Fusion, Escape, Flex and Transit Connect vehicles. Ford, which took on huge debt to survive the downturn and finance its turnaround, sold fewer than 130,000 cars in April 2009.

Sales of nearly all Ford models rose with one notable exception -- the Mustang "pony" car, which saw sales fall by about a third. Ford is depleting its inventory of the 2010 Mustang in anticipation of a freshened 2011 model, due in dealerships later this year.

Ford, which has been battling Toyota Motor (TM) for the No. 2 U.S. sales spot, said it has gained market share in 18 of the last 19 months. Toyota, along with Honda Motor (HMC), Chrysler and others, will release its April sales figures later in the day Monday.