Ford Might Sit April Out, While Nissan Leads Industry Sales Growth

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

New car sales are expected to surge by 10 percent year-on-year once the numbers from April are tallied up, at least according to data compiled by the Kelley Blue Book. That translates to sales of 1.415 million units, representing an increase that would bring the year-to-date total to 5.15 million units sold, which is a 3.6 percent increase from this time last year, the site explained.

“Following a big rebound in March, Kelley Blue Book expects April to continue with another solid month of sales, which will be supported by rising consumer confidence and improving employment conditions,” Alec Gutierrez, the senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said in the firm’s statement. “Sales also are supported by improved credit availability, low interest rates, and attractive lease offers. Leasing has accounted for approximately 25 percent of all retail sales so far this year, a trend which is supported by a continued strong outlook for used-car values along with low interest rates.”

Despite the fantastic leap over April of last year, the firm’s calculations imply a 7.8 percent decrease from March, which was a notably strong month for the auto industry. Across the American market, Nissan (NSANY.PK) is expected to reap the greatest gains this month, with an estimated 19.5 percent leap over last year, thanks in a large way to the redesigned Rogue crossover and Sentra compact. Overall, Nissan has grabbed about 1 percentage point of market share, the KBB noted.

On a volume basis, Chrysler is expected to pick up the most units year-over-year with 18.1 percent growth, the KBB said. “The popularity of the Jeep and Ram brands this year (up 44.5 percent and 27.3 percent respectively) has more than made up for the sale declines from both Dodge and Chrysler brands,” it said.

Nissan Rogue

Out of all the auto makers, Ford was the only manufacturer that’s projected to bear a slight decline, of 0.9 percent. That’s inclusive of the Lincoln brand, and although the KBB didn’t offer insights as to why sales would fall shy, it might have something to do with Ford’s aggressive product release schedule this year, as prospective buyers hold out for new models.

By segment, compact utility vehicles will continue to drive growth, as many models in this segment have achieved growth in excess of 40 percent so far this year, including the Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, and Mazda CX-5. The Ford Escape, the segment leader, has seen a decline, however — though the KBB still believes that the segment will manage a comfortable double-digit pace.

Further, pickups — long the leaders in monthly sales — should continue to put in strong growth. “Full-size pickup trucks also should reveal healthy growth in April,” said Gutierrez. “Ram pickup sales are leading the segment’s growth, but look for GM’s trucks to turn around recent sales declines after bumping up their incentives this month. Meanwhile, the F-Series will continue to dominate the segment as Ford prepares to launch the new generation later this year,” he said.

Mid-size cars, including the popular midsize sedan category, are expected to add a respectable 5.3 percent over their sales from April a year ago.

The Kelley Blue Book also acknowledged that there are 26 sales days in April of 2014, versus the 25 sales days in April of last year. Further, all percentages are based on raw volume, not the daily selling rate, it said.