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Area new car sales in April unchanged from 2011; 14 Ford dealers lead, moving 954 units

New car sales in the region in April were virtually unchanged from a year ago.

Area dealers reported selling 4,299 new units, up 0.3 percent from April 2011, according to the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association.

Through the first four months of the year, dealers reported selling 16,606 new units. That was nearly identical to the same period a year ago, when dealers sold an additional 47 units. (The sales totals exclude Chevrolet, which does not disclose its figures.)

Among reporting brands, Ford's 14 dealers led with 954 units sold, although the total was down 9 percent from a year ago, the NFADA said. Next came Toyota with 673 units, followed by Honda's 362.

Of the top 10 brands that reported results, only four had year-over-year increases in April. Jeep and Dodge helped compensate with particularly strong increases over a year ago.

Nissan reported only 132 units sold by its four area dealers, after selling more than 400 units in each of the previous two months.

Among lower-volume sellers, Fiat posted its best sales month yet, with 21 units sold. The local dealership has been making sales for eight months. Porsche reported selling 14 units, its best monthly total since last July. Mini sales fell to 28 units from 50 a year ago.

As May sales unfold, gasoline prices -- which can influence car buyers' decisions -- have gone down a bit. The AAA reported Buffalo Niagara's average pump price on Friday was $3.99 per gallon, down from $4.10 a month ago.

Nationally, the new-car sales picture is brightening. Based on estimates from 14 analysts, sales are on track to reach 14.3 million units this year, Bloomberg News reported. That would be the best year since pre-recession 2007, when sales hit 16 million units.

To put the revised forecast into perspective, U.S. new-car sales last year were 12.7 million, and predictions at the start of 2012 were for sales to finish in the 13 million to 14 million range. Predictions are now surpassing the upper end of the forecasts made a few months ago.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com