After sitting in neutral for much of the winter, auto sales are finally revving up as a rush of consumers hit the market in April. The sales of new trucks and sport-utility vehicles were especially high last month, with Fox Business reporting that interest in light trucks is on the rise due to an improving housing market and energy sector.
John Felice, vice president of Ford's U.S. marketing, sales and service, said the company received robust interest in its F-series pickup trucks and Explorer SUV.
"Overall, industry sales continued the rebound from January and February and are on a path of steady growth," he said.
Ford sold 63,387 units of its F-series truck last month, making it the best April for truck sales the company has seen since 2006. Meanwhile, Explorer sales were up 17 percent in April from the same month a year prior, helping offset some of Ford's slow car sales.
Despite its truck sales growing eight percent, Ford, the nation's second largest automaker, only sold 211,126 vehicles last month, a drop of 0.7 percent year-over-year. Much of the problem stemmed from lackadaisical interest in the company's smaller vehicles, as interest waned for the Fiesta, Fusion and Focus models, causing car sales to drop 9.1 percent.
Ford also reported slow sales from Lincoln, its luxury car brand. Lincoln posted a sales decline of 11 percent year-over-year in April despite surging sales through the first four months of the year that were more than 20 percent better than the start of 2013. The April drop signals that sales for Lincoln automobiles were surprisingly strong last April.
GM is swell
While Ford's numbers were down, General Motors, the nation's largest automaker, reported a strong April for sales.
GM recorded a 6.9 percent surge for April sales, according to Fox Business. Like Ford, GM noticed a high demand for the company's new pickup trucks. But unlike Ford, GM also did well with its car sales. Kurt McNeil, GM's U.S. vice president of sales operations, said a stronger economy is helping the company.
"Retail demand was steady in April, and truck sales and transaction prices were especially strong," McNeil said. "As we expected, the economy continues to strengthen."
Regardless of an economy that appears headed in the right direction, many Americans are still strapped for cash. For those homeowners looking to make a splashy purchase in the automotive market, they should consider taking out a home equity line of credit. This type of credit allows qualified homeowners to make a down payment on a car, start up a home renovation projection or repay their student loan debt. In turn, the borrowers need to put their home up for collateral to reduce the bank's risk.
According to DMEautomotive (DMEa), a marketing company that specializes in automotive trends, fewer people are now going into automotive showrooms when making a purchase.
DMEa reported that a survey of 2,000 automotive consumers revealed that 68 percent of buyers only visited two dealerships or fewer before pulling the trigger on a purchase, while 40 percent only visited one dealer.
"This avoidance of physical dealerships is in stark contrast with how much online vehicle research is happening: four in five people now use the Internet for car buying, visiting 10 auto websites in the process," said Mary Sheridan, DMEa's manager of research and analytics. "More people are stealthily comparison-shopping dealerships and inventory online, and then swooping in to buy when their minds are already made up."
Part of the reason could be mistrust of salespeople, with only 21 percent of respondents claiming they view car salespeople as "trustworthy." That's a lower rating than lawyers, mortgage brokers and insurance salespeople.Author: Marc Vasquez