The mass exodus away from trucks and SUVs gathered momentum in April, with both General Motors and Ford posting double-digit drops in U...

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The mass exodus away from trucks and SUVs gathered momentum in April, with both General Motors and Ford posting double-digit drops in U.S. sales Thursday, despite relatively strong showings on the car side.

Chrysler, with its lineup more geared to the bulkier vehicles, was the hardest hit, down more than 23 percent last month compared with a year earlier.

Toyota, however, managed to post higher sales because it is much less reliant on trucks and SUVs.

“There are no shocking trends here,” said Jesse Toprak, Edmunds.com analyst. “The smaller-car segment will continue to grow through the summer as gas prices probably get worse, and the Japanese automakers are much better positioned to capitalize on that.”

GM reported a 16.2 percent decline in U.S. light-vehicle sales.

The Hummer brand took the hardest hit, with sales down 29.6 percent. Cadillac saw the smallest dip, down 4.1 percent.

Analysts are looking for the worst year of industry sales since the early 1990s, and April has delivered more evidence to back that up.

There were two more selling days this April than a year ago; the numbers in this story are unadjusted. On a selling-days basis, the declines were much worse.

Ford sales retreated 12.2 percent in April compared with a year ago. Truck sales plunged 18.3 percent.

Ford, Lincoln and Mercury retail car sales actually rose 21 percent.

The company said higher gas prices are accelerating the shift from trucks and SUVs to crossovers and cars, with SUV sales at Ford down 36 percent and trucks off 19 percent.

The new Focus compact was a bright part of the report, with sales up 43.5 percent from a year ago to 23,850 cars. Fusion sedan sales rose 22.4 percent to 15,059.

Over at Chrysler, truck sales plunged 25 percent, stung by big declines for the Ram pickup and the Durango SUV.

Car sales slid 19 percent as the company shifted from its rental business.

Toyota reported a 3.4 percent increase in April U.S. car sales. The company, like Ford, took a hit on the truck side, which saw a 7.9 percent retreat.

But the car side, on the strength of the top-selling Camry and hybrid Prius sedans, enjoyed an 11.9 percent surge to 134,863 vehicles.

Nissan, thanks in part to a dismal April 2007, also fared relatively well with a 6.7 percent rise. The subcompact Versa, along with the Altima and Sentra sedans, helped propel Nissan’s car business.

Honda also looks to hand in a gain, although final results have been delayed due to technical difficulties. Preliminary tallies show vehicle sales rose at least 6 percent from a year earlier.