Orange County Business Journal

Automakers’ April Sales Up

Kari Hamanaka Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Automakers here reported another robust month in April led by sales of the two largest with operations based here.

Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America Inc., the largest automaker with headquarters in Orange County and part of South Korea’s Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, saw April sales increase 40% from a year earlier to 61,754 vehicles.

The automaker’s Elantra sedan led the sales gain with 22,100 sold.

Hyundai’s sister company, Irvine-based Kia Motors America Inc., sold 47,074 vehicles in April for a 56.7% gain from a year earlier. The company's Sorento sport utility vehicle fueled the increase.

Total U.S. auto sales in April kept the industry on a pace that would come to 13 million for the year.

The sales pace could slow in the coming months as automakers’ deal with supply constraints, some industry watchers say.

Rising gas prices coupled with historically robust sales in May and June could lead to additional pressures on automakers’ vehicle supplies, said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com.

“As inventories rapidly deteriorate, April could be the last month that we’ll see strong sales numbers until late summer or early fall,” Caldwell said.

Other local automakers also saw higher sales in April.

Cypress-based Mitsubishi Motors North America had its largest month for sales since August 2008 last month.

The automaker reported sales of 8,081 vehicles, up more than 100% from a year earlier.

Mitsubishi said it expects sales to continue to increase, helped by a new advertising campaign for its Outlander and Outlander Sport sport utility vehicles that's expected to begin later this month.

American Suzuki Motor Corp., headquartered in Brea, reported April sales up 9% from a year earlier to 2,132 vehicles.

The SX4 sedan was Suzuki's top seller with 1,000 sold last month.

Sales of the Suzuki Kizashi sedan saw the greatest percentage increase of any of its models. The Kizashi posted a 42% gain last month from a year earlier to 577 vehicles sold.

Mazda North American Operations in Irvine sold 20,638 vehicles in April, up 9% from a year earlier.

Mazda's CX-7 and CX-9 sport utility vehicles led sales.