General Motors CEO Says April Sales Will Mirror March

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General Motors
An ad for the new Chevrolet Trax SUV by General Motors has been pulled after it was discovered that the advertisements' accompanying music had racially insensitive lyrics toward China and other Asian nations.

General Motors(NYSE: GM [FREE Stock Trend Analysis]) Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson told The Detroit News Wednesday he's expecting April auto sales to be about the same as those posted in March.

Among Akerson’s concerns – low consumer confidence in the U.S. and weak sales and a weak economy in Europe. GM lost $1.8 billion in Europe in 2012 and said it expects to break even by 2015.

"Hopefully things will get better in turn," Akerson said. GM is scheduled to release its first-quarter earnings May 2.

Ford Motor(NYSE: F) Wednesday posted a higher-than-expected first-quarter profit, although Europe remains a problem forit as well. The company said it lost $462 million in Q1 in Europe.

In fact, things are so bad that one Ford dealer, AK Autoport Koeln GmbH, in the western city of Cologne, resorted to offering a 99-euro ($130) Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN) voucher on the 2013 Ford Fiesta, according to a report in Businessweek. For their $130, buyers received a 5,450 euro or 32 percent discount on the Fiesta of their choice.

Unfortunately, auto discounts in Germany, a country that accounts for more than one in five car sales in Europe, climbed to the highest level in seven years, severely reducing profit margins for manufacturers, according to the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Meanwhile, Automotive News reported that a top executive at Honda(NYSE: HMC) said the company’s sales will increase by more than six percent in April, matching the 6 percent gain in March.

Within the company, the Honda Division expects a six percent increase in volume, compared to last April, and sales at the Acura Division will be up between 10 and 11 percent, American Honda Senior Vice President of automotive operations, Mike Accavitti, said Wednesday.

Accavitti noted that the Accord outsold the Toyota(NYSE: TM) Camry on a pure-retail basis, 87,000 units to 74,000 units, through March of this year.

Toyota responded by saying that the first quarter is typically a fleet-heavy order period for the company and boasted that the Camry was the No. 1 retail passenger car in 2012, according to R.L. Polk retail registration data, outselling the Accord, 341,232 units to 321,090.

The industry, as a whole, has proven to be stronger than the overall U.S. economy as the record high average age of cars and trucks on the road, along with easier availability of credit, and improving household finances have pushed buyers into showrooms. Some forecasters believe April industry sales will advance as much as seven to 11 percent over the same month a year ago.

Reuters said analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the automotive industry to report an annual selling rate of 15.3 million vehicles in April, which would mark the sixth straight month above the 15 million level. At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.

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