Usually strong Toyota suffers April sales drop

Published May 2, 2007

DETROIT - April was such a lousy auto sales month that every major manufacturer but Chrysler reported a decrease from the same month last year.

Even Toyota.

General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Corp. all showed declines as automakers released their monthly U.S. sales numbers Tuesday, but the drop for Toyota Motor Corp. countered a nearly two-year trend of rising sales, sometimes in double digits.

Toyota sales, which include Toyota, Lexus and Scion, dropped 4.4 percent to 210, 457 last month from 219, 965 in April 2006, the company said. It was Toyota's first year-over-year monthly decline since May 2005.

U.S. light vehicle sales for all automakers declined 7.6 percent last month to 1.34-million from roughly 1.45-million a year ago, according to Autodata Corp.

Industry analysts say the bad month is a harbinger of things to come for the whole industry in the second half of the year with economic uncertainty, high consumer debt, the housing slowdown and rising gasoline prices contributing to a softer automotive market.

Nissan reported the worst decline in April with sales down 18 percent from the same month a year ago. The company sold 71, 124 vehicles, down from 86, 720 in April of last year.

Ford Motor Co. reported a 12.9 percent decline in U.S. sales due largely to slumping car sales. Ford sold a total of 227, 619 light vehicles last month, down from 261, 381 in April 2006. Car sales were off 23.6 percent, while truck sales fell 5.7 percent, the company said.

General Motors Corp. sales dropped 9.5 percent from April of last year, while DaimlerChrysler AG sales were up 1.2 percent. Honda sales sank 9.1 percent from a year ago.

DaimlerChrysler's overall sales increased to 213, 999 from 211, 365 a year ago, due to an increase at its Chrysler Group. Chrysler said it had a strong retail month, with the Jeep brand up 29 percent due largely to sales of the four-door Wrangler and Compass models.

Honda's decline was almost as surprising as Toyota's, with the company's overall sales going from 139, 124 last April to 126, 419 this year. Its car sales plummeted 13.7 percent, while its truck sales were off 2.6 percent.

At Ford, even the company's Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan mid-sized cars, which had been selling well in previous months, saw a decline, with Fusion sales off 2.5 percent and Milan sales down 5.4 percent.

Ford's F-series pickup trucks, traditionally the top-selling vehicles in the U.S., were down 12.4 percent for the month.

Expedition sales were up 27 percent for the month, while Ford sold 9, 134 new Edges and 2, 901 MKXs in April.

Top sellers

Automakers released April 2007 U.S. sales figures Tuesday. Listed are the top-selling vehicles for the month, as well as the total number sold and the percent change in sales from April 2006.

Source: Autodata Corp.


April sales Percent change
Ford F-Series pickup 56, 692 - 5.1
Chevrolet Silverado pickup 49, 436 - 7.2
Toyota Camry/Hybrid 37, 911 2.2
Toyota Corolla/Matrix 32, 289 - 3.3
Dodge Ram pickup 31, 503 10.8
Honda Civic/Hybrid 29, 155 1.0
Honda Acord/Hybrid 28, 926 - 0.9
Chevrolet Impala 28, 171 17.9
Dodge Caravan 23, 095 10.9
Honda CR-V 1 7, 379 39.4