DETROIT -- April was another up-and-down month for sales of new cars and trucks in the United States -- up substantially from last year's horrific numbers but far, far below April 2007, the last of nine consecutive years of 16 million sales or more.
April brought 982,302 deliveries, a 20 percent gain over the 2009 disaster but 27 percent less than in 2007. April sales this year and last year fell below 1 million for the only times in more than 20 years.
The four-month total of 3,528,093 was 17 percent better than last year at this time, but it was 33 percent below 2007.
The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate in April was 11.5 million -- the projected full-year tally if sales continue at their current pace. That would be 1.1 million more than in 2009. But anyone who claims that the auto recession is over is what Nellie Forbush in South Pacific would have called a cockeyed optimist.
But there is no question that the auto industry is climbing out of last year's pit. Even Chrysler Group reported a gain last month over 2009, and it was a big gain -- 25 percent. It was Chrysler's first year-to-year gain since July 2005.