This marks the first full 30 days since General Motors deemed us slovenly journalists unworthy of a monthly sales report. We’ll live, of course, as estimates are a wonderful thing. To be fair, their move wasn’t entirely without precedent: the industry used to report sales on a 10-day cycle, then twenty, before finally settling on a monthly statement.
As for concrete numbers, all other OEMs are still providing them (for now). Given the sea of red in some corners, there are a few who probably wish they weren’t.
Leading the way last month for the Detroit Three was FCA and its merry house of brands, recording a 4.3 percent jump in April. Sergio has Jeep to thank for this result, with that marque alone counting for nearly 14,000 extra units. That’s a record April, by the way. Chrysler, Ram, and Fiat all took dives. The company is largely flat through the first quarter, but a double-digit decline at Ram must be keeping execs awake at night. Imagine if they didn’t try to goose the numbers.
Ford experienced a decline both on the month and on the year, to the tunes of 4.7 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. Ford said April car deliveries dropped by 15 percent while utility (crossover and SUV) sales fell 4.6 percent. Trucks edged up about a single percentage point. As for the General, best estimates peg their performance as slightly off in April but up about 20,000 units to date in 2018.
Japanese brands had a rough month, with even the mighty Honda and Toyota recording drops in volume. One should note, both to the credit of the winners and in consideration of the losers, that there were two fewer selling days in April 2018 compared to the same period of 2017. None of the major brands fell more than Nissan, which slid a whopping 28.1 percent compared to the same month last year. Quarterly performance is not as dire but still off about 35,000 vehicles or 6.5 percent.
The Koreans were no better, showing declines at Kia and Hyundai. This is not a blip at the latter, as the company is off by roughly 11 percent both last month and year-to-date. Your author is flummoxed by that development. Sister brand Kia is also slightly adrift, but by much smaller numbers.
Those who are buying cars are spending more. Industry boffins at J.D. Power say the average new vehicle transaction price in April was $32,544, more than a grand above the previous high of $31,414 set in April 2017.
The market as a whole declined by almost 5 percent last month and is currently flat through the first quarter of this year.