| May 04, 2012
Eight of March's 10 best-sellers returned to the table in April, but one of the newbies may surprise you according to USAToday.
March, an incentive-heavy 2012 Nissan Altima (the redesigned 2013 will
be on sale soon) fell just 1,517 cars short of the redesigned Toyota
Camry, clinching the No. 2 best-selling car position. Incentives remain
high, but Altima sales dropped drastically enough to knock it off the
top 10 list. Instead, shoppers drifted toward the Honda Accord and
The Accord, one of April's two newcomers, gained
25.6% last month, snapping three months' sales malaise to fall just
1,435 cars short of the hard-charging, recently redesigned Camry. The
shift surprised us, given the Accord is in its final year before a
redesign while incentives are about the same as a year ago.
little surprise that the Prius' sales catapulted 101.7% despite gas
prices leveling off this month. Three new Prius variants — a subcompact
Prius c, larger Prius v and rechargeable Prius Plug-in — accounted for
76% of that rise. Strip those away, however, and even the original Prius
handily outpaced its year-ago sales.
The Chevrolet Malibu is this month's other newcomer. Malibu sales are down, but April 2011 was a banner month for the sedan. If
the Malibu and Accord reshuffled the deck for top-selling family cars,
their compact counterparts stayed in closer order. Despite stable
incentives, the aging Toyota Corolla stayed in the top 10. The
redesigned Honda Civic fell 8.8% but stayed put, too. However, the Ford
Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra lined up offstage, with
Elantra and Cruze sales down more than 20%. Focus sales were up 12.5%
but not enough to keep a top 10 ranking.
Detroit's pickup trucks
gained some traction in April, as combined sales for the Ford F-Series,
Chevrolet Silverado and Chrysler's Ram trucks gained 7.4%.
auto sales rose just 2.3% overall, falling short of the industry's
double-digit rise in the first three months of 2012. GM and Ford posted
slight losses, while Chrysler's meteoric rise continued with its best
April since 2008. Toyota took up some of the slack, with sales up 11.6%,
while Hyundai-Kia, Nissan and Honda stayed about even.
slowing? For starters, April overlapped five weekends, leaving buyers
three fewer days to shop than a year ago -- only twice in the last
decade has there been three fewer days year-over-year in a month, a GM
Moreover, April saw the incentives gap
narrow for the first time in months. CNW Marketing Research data show
car buyers reaped 15% off the average MSRP in total dealer and automaker
incentives. But rising MSRPs outpaced the discounts, so transaction
prices shot up: The average car sold for $31,216 in April, or $1,657
(5.6%) more than a year ago.
This month's numbers might seem
average, but they portend a stabilizing. April 2011 also saw relatively
normal inventories from Japanese automakers as the impact of the March
tsunami hadn't been felt at the dealer level. We expect May 2012 sales
for Japanese automakers to have huge spikes versus 2011 numbers that saw
drastic drops versus 2010. The upswing in 2012 could look shocking.
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