Car sales are a great indicator of the state of the economy. when car sales are down, so is the economy. In April 2010, car sales were up 20% over April 2009. That’s a good sign that the economy is turning around.
Of course, some brands did better than others.
Nissan had the largest increase — up 35.1%, and that’s even before the eagerly-awaitted Nissan LEAF plug-in electric car goes on sale.
Ford sales were up 24.9%, and that’s before the eagerly-awaited 2011 Ford Fiesta subcompact goes on sale. The Wall St. Journal reports that sales of the redesigned Taurus doubled in April, and sales of the ever-popular F-150 truck were strong, too.
Chrysler did well, also, with sales up 24.8%, but that increase is deceptive since it sold just 96,000 vehicles in April 2010, which is half of the total number sold by General Motors.
Despite all its safety-related woes, sales of Toyota and Lexus vehicles were up 24.4%, according to the research firm Autodata. Perhaps that’s because we couldn’t resist the bargains and deals Toyota was offering to sweeten the pot, including zero financing.
German car-makers did well, as well. Audi reports sales were up 18.1% worldwide last year — Audi does not split out US sales. But considering that the economy also has been weaker and down in Europe, China and the Middle East, this is a pretty respectable sales increase. And this is before the new Ironman 2 movie is releases in May, in which lead character Tony Stark drives a souped up Audi R8 super sports car.
BMW reports sales figures and profits quarterly, not monthly. So we’ll have to put into context its 8.1% increase over the same period in 2009, which was when the world economy was racing downhill. According to the New York Times, the largest sales increase was for the BMW division that owns and makes Rolls Royce cars. Up 60% in one year.
We buy cars when things are good — or getting better. So I am hopeful that the strengthening auto sales also mean that the economy is climbing, too.