U.S. new-car sales up 3.5 percent over April 2015

(May 4, 2016) Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Nissan, Honda and Toyota were the big winners among the larger automotive companies in April new-car sales that were up 3.5 percent over April 2015 with 1.506 million vehicles sold.

“Consumer preference for SUVs and pickup trucks continued unabated in April,” said Reid Bigland, FCA’s senior vice president for North America sales. Sales at FCA were up 6 percent over last year with monthly sales of 199,631.

Honda Motor Co. said sales surged 14 percent — an April record for the company — including a 15 percent boost in its namesake brand to go with a 9 percent increase at the Acura brand. It was Honda's best April on record with 148,829 sales. The new Civic led the way with 35,331 units sold.

Nissan soared 13 percent for its third double-digit gain of 2016. Nissan division sales totaled 113,429, up 14 percent, an April record led by the the refreshed Altima with 28,484 sales, Rogue crossover with 23,173 and the refreshed Sentra with 19,145 sales.

Ford sales were up 3.8 percent with 229,557 units sold. Sales of the Explorer rose 25 percent, in contrast with declines for two other crossovers, the Escape and Edge. Ford’s car sales fell 12 percent, including a 17 percent drop for the Fusion midsize sedan. Ford says full-size pickups outsold midsize cars in April. Full-size pickups gained a full point of share and midsize cars lost a full point. Lincoln brand sales were up 20 percent led by the MKC crossover.

Toyota sales were up 3.8 percent to 211,125. The soon to be terminated Scion brand saw sales rise 54.1 percent from 4,309 to 6,640. Lexus sales were down 3.8 percent in April.

General Motors had a disappointing month with sales down 3.5 percent from April 2015. Cadillac was the biggest loser, dropping 29 percent. Buick was down 2.8 percent and Chevrolet was off 2.3 percent.

Other success stories include Audi where sales were up 5.8 percent on the strength of its SUVs; Volvo jumped 33 percent; and Subaru sales were up 6.6 percent, the company's 53rd consecutive month of growth in the U.S.

Volkswagen, embroiled in the diesel cheating scandal, saw sales dip 9.7 percent from April 2015.