AMERICAN HONDA +10%
Honda was a beneficiary of the move toward fuel-efficiency, even if its gain versus last year wasn't spectacular. Then again, Honda wasn't doing as bad as most a year ago.
The Accord was down a bit from the frothy levels of March but it still topped 30,000 units. The Civic enjoyed a huge month during the run-out of the 2011 model. The Insight (+41%) and Fit (+73%) surged. The CR-V enjoyed a big increase (+30%) and was America's bestselling SUV. But the Ridgeline sank (-45%), and is now Honda's slowest-selling model.
Acura's increase was modest but at least it was shared across all models -- all, that is, except the hapless ZDX.
CHRYSLER GROUP +23%
Chrysler is defying the trend toward cars and away from trucks, probably because trucks are where its best new products are. Its truck sales are growing faster than car sales, and trucks account for 2 of every 3 Chrysler products sold. With 882 units sold in April, the Fiat 500 isn't yet significantly affecting Chrysler's total. Unlike Ford and GM, Chrysler is claiming a reduced dependency on fleet sales, with April deliveries to consumers increasing by 37% over last year.
Chrysler brand fell due to weakness in the 300 (-21%) and the Town & Country (-34%). The 200, however, is selling at twice the pace of the Sebring.
Dodge division's increase is pretty much all due to the addition of the Durango, although the Avenger (+26%) and the Nitro (!) (+44%) chipped in as well. Surprisingly, the revamped Charger was no help (-5%) nor was the Grand Caravan (-16%).
It's not just the Grand Cherokee that's powering Jeep forward, although it is the brand's bestseller. The improvements visited upon the Compass (+181%) and the Patriot (+93%) have apparently had an effect.
Both the full-size Ram and the mid-size Dakota topped last April by about one-third, but the effect was 10 times greater for the big pickup because of its bigger volume.