American auto sales increased 2.8% year-on-year in April, higher than most analysts expected. But the sound of champagne corks popping was absent at Ford Motor Company where US sales tumbled 7.5%.

Ford was the only one of the ‘big three’ to report a slide – General Motors enjoyed a 12.5% increase while DaimlerChrysler posted a more modest 3.2% rise.

Overall sales totalled 1,447,086, according to Autodata, producing a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 17.4 million, up from 16.7m twelve months earlier.

Demand – buoyed by discount offers, low interest rates and robust consumer confidence – is expected to remain high. Indeed, GM increased its second-quarter production schedule by 50,000 vehicles.

Proving particularly popular last month were sport-utility vehicles and luxury cars. GM posted a 47% leap in demand for SUVs and a 23.4% surge in sales of its high-end Cadillac models. Similarly, Ford’s SUV brands and its upmarket Jaguar and Land Rover marques performed well, though the auto giant was slowed down by a 14.9% fall in sales of Ford-branded cars.

Overseas manufacturers continued to gain ground. Nissan Motor’s sales were up 14.8%; those of Hyundai Motors rose 13.8%; there was a 1.1% rise at Honda Motor; and Toyota Motor reported flat sales at its flagship Toyota division whereas those at its Lexus unit increased 2.2%.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff