POSTED: Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 6:00am
UPDATED: Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 6:04am
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Major U.S. automakers all reported the best April for U.S. sales in at least five years Wednesday, giving a good start to the spring car sales season.
General Motors reported April sales rose 11 percent from the same period a year ago, roughly in line with forecasts for the month. Sales of truck models, including pickups and SUVs, were 17 percent higher, while crossover sales were up 14 percent. GM's Car sales rose only 6 percent.
At Ford Motor sales jumped 18 percent, a bit stronger than analysts' forecast. Cars sales led the way there, rising 21 percent in the period. Chrysler Group sales increased 11 percent, marking the 37th straight month that it reported a year-over-year gain in sales.
Toyota Motor was the only automaker among the four largest not to report a sales gain. It was 1 percent below year-ago levels, which was far below forecasts. Details of those sales were not immediately available. Other automakers such as Honda Motor are due to report April sales later Wednesday.
Even with the weak Toyota sales, industrywide U.S. sales are forecast to come in at an annual pace of more than 15 million vehicles for the sixth straight month. Before this string of strong sales, the industry had gone more than four years without reaching that benchmark. The strong U.S. sales are a contrast to Europe, where the deepening recession has caused sales to fall to a multi-decade low.
"Both home prices and the stock market have remained at post-recession highs. These wealth effects have spurred consumer spending this year, including on car sales," said Lacey Plache, chief economist for Edmunds.com. "Even though fiscal issues at home and abroad continue to crop up, consumers have not been derailed."