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GM, Chrysler, Toyota boost US sales in April, Ford falls

Automakers General Motors, Chrysler and Toyota on Thursday scored US sales gains in April, extending the rebound from bad winter weather, while Ford sales unexpectedly slipped.

WASHINGTON: Automakers General Motors, Chrysler and Toyota on Thursday scored US sales gains in April, extending the rebound from bad winter weather, while Ford sales unexpectedly slipped.

GM, the largest US automaker, said total sales rose 7.0 per cent in April from a year ago, to 254,076 vehicles.

Kurt McNeil, GM's US vice president of sales operations, was upbeat about demand.

"The economy continues to strengthen," he said in a statement. "Retail demand was steady in April, and truck sales and transaction prices were especially strong."

Chrysler Group, the US unit of Italy's Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, clocked in a 14 per cent jump year-over-year with 178,652 vehicles sold, its best April performance since 2007.

For GM and Chrysler, sales gains were higher than estimates of 4.7 per cent and 12.3 per cent, respectively, from analysts at Edmunds. com, a car-shopping website.

Ford Motor Company, the number-two US automaker, reported sales fell 1.0 per cent from a year ago, to 141,950 vehicles. Edmunds.com analysts had forecast a 4.6 per cent increase.

Ford's sales numbers came the same day the company named chief operating officer Mark Fields to replace Alan Mulally as chief executive on July 1.

Japanese rival Toyota, the world's top automaker, said US sales increased 9.0 per cent to 199,660 vehicles.

"Sales momentum from March rolled into April pushing the industry to its best back-to-back monthly sales pace since fall of 2007," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.

Fellow Japanese automaker Nissan said US sales shot up 18.5 per cent to an April record of 94,764 vehicles.

Honda's sales fell 2.9 per cent from last year's record in April to 96,704 vehicles.

"Even though our April sales were off slightly, it was still one of the ten best sales months in American Honda history," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of sales for American Honda.

"The market is very competitive, but there are still plenty of people out shopping for cars and trucks."

South Korean firm Hyundai Motor said its US unit sales rose 4.4 per cent to 66,107 cars and trucks.

Volkswagen's US sales skidded sharply lower. The German company posted a 10.4 per cent drop from a year ago, to 30,831 units.

Overall, US auto sales in April are expected to have extended their spring rebound after unusually harsh winter weather in January and February hammered sales.

Edmunds.com predicted a 9.1 per cent rise in US auto sales in April following the 5.7 per cent gain in March, with hot demand for sport utility vehicles leading the way.

"Despite a move toward fuel-efficient vehicles in recent years, car shoppers continued to show high interest in trucks and SUVs," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com.

"SUVs, in particular, are not only selling well, but they are selling at a quicker pace than cars, pickups, or vans. SUVs are selling, on average, 20 days faster than other cars and trucks."

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