A good sign for the economy is that pickup-trucks, being bought by contractors and builders, are surging. GM, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, BMW and Porsche all posted robust sales.
On the downside, Hyundai posted only a marginal sales gain, while Toyota was down slightly and Volkswagen was down more than 10%.
"The fact that pickup truck sales are doing so well is a real good sign for the economy and the industry, especially since automakers make huge profits on trucks and they are built in the U.S.," said AOL Autos editor-in-chief David Kiley.
The annualized selling rate for new vehicles in April was 14.92 million, according to Autodata, which is up 8.5% versus last April, but down 11.5 from the torrid pace of last month.
Ford's sales rose 17.9% in April, compared with a year ago. Ford's class leading F-Series pickup rose 24.4% in April.
GM and Chrysler Group both reported respectable 11% gains. Chrysler's Ram truck brand posted a monster 49% sales bump copared with April of last year. GM's pickups--Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra gained 23%.
Part of the reason for big gains at GM and Nissan is higher incentives, which is good news for car-buyers. Nissan is cutting prices on seven of its models including Altima, Sentra and Pathfinder.
Korean automaker Hyundai's 2% gain was still good enough to be its best April ever in its U.S. history. Part of the automaker's growth problem actually stems from being able to get enough of its hottest selling models. Sales of the Korean automaker's compact Elantra jumped 45%, while its full-size Azera sedan was up 47%.
Luxury sales are booming. Porsche had its best overall sales month in its U.S. history, with sles up 29% year-to-date. BMW was up 10%. Cadillac was up 88%. Acura and Audi were up 14%. "It's good to have strong models in the luxury space right now as people with money have realized big gains in the stock market."
For the first time in two decades, GM, Ford and Chrysler (still considered the Detroit-Three even though Chrysler is controlled by Italian automaker Fiat) combined gained market share in the first quarter.