Honda posts first increase of the year

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Strong demand for crossovers helped American Honda bounce back from three straight monthly sales declines, with sales rising 1 percent to 132,456 vehicles in April from a year earlier.

Honda division sales gained 1 percent to 118,334, while Acura sales grew 2 percent to 14,122.

The gains were not enough to put American Honda back into positive territory for the year, with sales in the first four months off 2 percent to 457,810.

At Honda division, CR-V crossover sales rose 7 percent to an April-record 28,485. Honda's other core models also posted April gains, with Accord sales up 2 percent to 34,124 and Civic sales increasing 4 percent to 27,611. But Pilot crossover sales fell 17 percent and Odyssey minivan sales slipped 2 percent.

Fell short

American Honda's gains fell short of double-digit April sales increases posted by other major automakers, including Toyota, Nissan and Chrysler. With a few smaller players yet to release sales numbers, the industry appeared headed for an 8 percent gain in April.

In a statement, American Honda said its retail sales momentum is continuing “despite an environment punctuated by a handful of companies applying heavy incentives and a significant reliance on fleet sales.”

In that statement, Honda division boss Jeff Conrad said, “More than any other automaker, our success is based on one customer at a time going down to their Honda dealer to purchase a new vehicle, and in April, we see the power of our retail sales strategy at work.”

Acura contrasts

The contrasting crossover-vs.-car results at Acura continued to play out in April. Sales of the MDX mid-sized crossover jumped 80 percent and sales of the large RDX crossover grew 6 percent, while Acura car sales fell a combined 33 percent.

Acura is winding down production of its TSX and TL sedans ahead of the new TLX sedan's arrival this year. The TLX will replace the TSX and TL in Acura's lineup.

In a statement, Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of Acura division, said the TLX will “establish the Acura brand as a force to be reckoned with in the luxury segment.”

You can reach Ryan Beene at rbeene@crain.com. -- Follow Ryan on Twitter


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