U.S. vehicle sales data released Friday delivered no signs of economic recovery despite widespread hope the beleaguered auto industry would begin to see relief in April.
The annual selling rate remained stuck in the low- to-mid 9 million vehicles, likely falling below 850,000 car and truck sales, according to early auto maker estimates. The drop represents a decline of 35% to 40% from a year ago.
Uncertainty around General Motors and Chrysler, which entered bankruptcy protection on Thursday, helped drag sales down toward the month’s end and erased a strong start to the month, auto makers said. Chrysler finished with a 48% decline for April.
Despite these figures most car makers posted their best sales figures of the year in April. An exception was Toyota which is reporting a 42% slump from a year earlier and allowing Ford to eclipse it in monthly sales for the first time since March 2008. Honda also saw its results strengthen, posting a smaller decline of 25% for April.
General Motors, meanwhile, sold 172,150 light vehicles in April. But volumes rose 11% from March. There were 26 selling days in April, the same as a year ago. Truck sales, including crossovers, fell 28%, while car sales slipped 41%.
Ford recorded a 33% drop to 133,979, as Ford, Lincoln and Mercury car sales dropped 31%. Sport-utility vehicles continued to tumble – down 61% in April. Sales of trucks and vans dropped 36%.
For Chrysler, April sales dropped to 76,682 vehicles, the lowest total since January and putting its year-to-date figure below Honda. Car sales continued to tumble for the truck-focused company, down 61%.
Toyota sales fell to 126,540 with cars and trucks down by similar percentages, while Honda reported sales of 101,029 amid an 18% drop for cars. Nissan had a 38% slump to 47,190, but avoided falling behind Hyundai in monthly sales for the first time.
Hyundai reported its April sales dropped 14% to 33,952. Sales of Hyundai’s Accent and Sonata grew 26% and 7%, respectively, and the company said it boosted its retail market share by 20%.