April was a good news/bad news month for car and light-truck sales in the United States.
Let's take the good news first. Sales totaled 1,504,332, up 5.7 percent over last April. Any time sales top 1.5 million, it is a very good month, indeed. The seasonally adjusted annual rate was 17.7 million. It was 17.5 million at the end of March.
Year-to-date sales stayed a short step ahead of last year. The 2005 total of 5,398,381 was 1.2 percent ahead of 2004.
The Chrysler group (Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep) posted a substantial sales increase of 9.3 percent for April and picked up nearly half a percentage point of market share compared with April 2004.
(Any mention of the Big 3 in this story means the North American brands of GM, Ford and Chrysler. Totals and percentages do not include their European affiliates.)
General Motors was down 4.1 percent, and Ford Motor Co. was off 1.4 percent.
GM's new cars - the Chevrolet Cobalt, Buick LaCrosse and Pontiac G6 - had their best month since they entered the market. The Cobalt jumped to 22,726, a 59.4 percent gain over March that was spurred by an increase in fleet sales.
Ford's new Freestyle sport wagon had its best month, and the Ford Five Hundred missed its peak month by only 160 units.
Japan's Big Three were hotter than pistols in April.
Nissan North America (Nissan-Infiniti) recorded a 31.9 percent gain over last year; Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. (Toyota-Lexus-Scion) was up 25.9 percent; and American Honda Motor Co. (Honda-Acura) jumped 18.0 percent. That's a combined gain of 24.5 percent.