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Pickups, small SUVs lead auto sales rebound

| Friday, May 2, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

American car buyers came out of hibernation in April to spend on pickups and SUVs, fueling an auto sales rebound that analysts expect to last the rest of the year.

Nissan led the way with an 18.3 percent increase over a year ago, with sales of the redesigned Rogue small SUV up almost 27 percent. Chrysler posted a 14 percent gain, boosted by a big jump in sales of Jeep SUVs. Both companies reported record April sales. Toyota sales grew by 13 percent, led by a double-digit gain in truck sales.

General Motors posted a 7 percent gain, led by the Buick Encore small SUV and the Chevy Silverado pickup. Hyundai sales rose a little more than 4 percent on strong SUV figures.

Analysts are expecting an industry-wide sales gain of at least 8.5 percent compared with last April. That would mark the best April since 2005. But there were some soft spots.

U.S. consumers bought 15.6 million new cars and trucks in 2013. The industry entered 2014 with expectations of selling more than 16 million cars for the first time since 2007. But sales dropped 3 percent in January and were flat in February. March started slowly, but finished with a flourish.

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