The spending frenzy on new cars and trucks in March spilled into April as consumers overcame higher interest rates and tightening credit to take advantage of more plentiful inventory and rising incentives. Fleet deliveries also boosted April sales.
While first-quarter sales gave the industry reason to be encouraged, the April results were "comfortably the most impressive outcome since 2021," said David Oakley, who oversees forecasting in the Americas for LMC Automotive.
"As the market appears to be finally moving beyond supply chain woes, and pricing begins to become slightly more favorable to the consumer, thanks to higher incentives, we are now seeing sales comparable to pre-pandemic levels," he said.
Light-vehicle sales in April totaled 1.36 million, an increase of 10 percent over April 2022, according to LMC Automotive data. That figure includes numbers from automakers that won't publicly report sales until the end of the second quarter.
For the seven automakers that do report on a monthly basis, sales increased 8.9 percent, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center.
Similar to March, fleet sales played a key role in April's strong performance, representing 21.7 percent of total volume, the highest share since the pandemic, LMC said.
Retail sales still saw a 3.8 percent annual gain, according to estimates from True Car.
Motor Intelligence estimated that April's seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate landed at 16.15 million, the highest this year since January's rate of 16.12 million.
Oakley said April light-vehicle sales came in 6 percent higher than expectations, and as a result, LMC revised its outlook for 2023 upward by 175,000 vehicles to 15.3 million.