DETROIT — Toyota is putting a year of earthquake-related shortages behind it and grabbing sales from General Motors and Ford.
Toyota’s sales rose 12 percent in April, and its share of the market returned to levels it hasn’t seen since before the March 2011 earthquake in Japan. Its sales outpaced the industry as a whole, which saw growth of 2.3 percent last month, according to Autodata Corp.
Toyota snatched buyers from General Motors, Ford, Honda and Nissan, according to trade-in data from auto research site Edmunds.com. All of those companies saw sales fall in April. Among those who saw sales gains was Chrysler, which posted a 20 percent jump.
Chrysler sales jumped with the Ram pickup posting a 19 percent gain. Chrysler was also helped at the smaller end of the lineup, where Fiat 500 small cars sold four times as many as they did last April. But KBB.com noted that Chrysler is offering $3,000 incentives on the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, and said the company is relying too heavily on deals to drive sales.
Plummeting Fiesta sales were among the reasons for Ford’s 5 percent decline in April. GM’s sales dropped 8 percent in April.
Other Japanese automakers didn’t fare as well as Toyota. Nissan’s sales were flat compared with last year. Honda said sales fell 2 percent.
Volkswagen of America Inc. said its sales rose 31.5 percent in April, helped by sales of its redesigned Passat and Beetle models.
Hyundai said its sales rose 1 percent, led by the new Accent and Veloster small cars. Hyundai also saw a 36 percent increase in sales of its luxury Genesis and Equus models.
Toyota’s resurgence could mean better deals as its rivals fight for customers by offering discounts and promotions. Already, Toyota has announced zero-percent financing and other deals in May.
It also means better selection for buyers. Toyota’s factories are cranking out popular models that were missing from showrooms last year when the earthquake disrupted production.
April started slowly, but sales picked up toward the end of the month. It was the fourth straight month in which sales have run at an annual rate higher than 14 million.
Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for the LMC Automotive consulting firm, said pent-up demand for new cars is driving sales, as the average age of vehicles on U.S. roads approaches a record 11 years. That demand continues even after a strong February and March.