April auto sales in the United States kept pace with March’s strong performance as manufacturers grew sales 18%. Industry analysts attribute much of the increase to sales of smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.
Following is a snapshot of how some manufacturers fared during the month:

Acura: +21.6%
Audi: +7.5%
BMW: +19.6%
Chrysler: +22%
Ford: +16%
GM: +27%
Honda: +10%
Hyundai: +40%
Jaguar: +39%
Kia: +57%
Mazda: +9%
Mercedes Benz: +2.3%
Nissan: +12%
Toyota: +1%
Volkswagen: +23%

Gains were particularly strong for GM, whose Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain compact crossovers lines were among the its top performers during the month of April. According to GM, retail sales, those to individual customers, rose 25 percent versus last April with cars and crossovers up 49 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Retail sales for the Cruze were 180 percent higher than the Chevrolet Cobalt (the model the Cruze replaced). The Equinox and Terrain also posted retail sales records, up 53 and 61 percent, respectively.

“Recently, rising fuel prices have led many to re-think their vehicle choice,” said Don Johnson, vice president, U.S. sales operations. “Because of the investments we’ve made in fuel-efficiency and global product architectures, the company is well positioned to meet these needs.”

Consumer demand for fuel-efficient vehicles also drove double-digit sales increases for Ford during the month of April. For the second month in a row, sales for Ford’s new Fiesta eclipsed 9,000, while Focus sales totaled 17,265, up 22 percent versus a year ago. Not to be outdone, Fusion set a new April record with sales of 21,189, up 12 percent versus a year ago, and The Ford Mustang (up 59 percent) and Lincoln MKZ (up 40 percent) also posted higher sales than a year ago.

In the “utilities” category, Ford’s sales were paced by the all-new Ford Explorer, which had its best April since 2006. Explorer sales totaled 12,593, up 138 percent and, for the fourth straight month, Explorer continues to be the fastest-turning vehicle in the Ford showroom. Meanwhile, the Escape set a new April sales record with sales of 21,240, up 11 percent versus a year ago, and sales of the new Ford Edge (up 4 percent) and Lincoln MKX (up 16 percent) also were higher.

“With gasoline prices eclipsing $3.90 a gallon, consumers are placing an even higher priority on fuel efficiency in every size and kind of vehicle,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service. “Ford’s plan to lead in fuel efficiency is saving our customers money at the pump and helping us to profitably grow our business.”

Ford offers 12 vehicles that lead their sales segments in fuel economy, including four vehicles with EPA certified 40 mpg or higher ratings, Czubay noted.