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/ Source: NBC News

April showers resulted in a surge of buyers looking for new trucks and crossovers, which boosted the bottom lines of nearly every automaker.

Ford finally broke out of its slump in April, posting a 5 percent sales increase. General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Audi all reported gains as sales of new vehicles bloomed with the beginning of spring.

Fiat Chrysler sales increased 6 percent as the company posted its best April sales since 2007 and it extended its streak of year-over-year sales gains to 61 consecutive months driven, in part, by increases in Jeep Cherokee and Wrangler as well as Ram pickups.

Nissan’s brand sales were up 5.4 percent and its luxury division, Infiniti, surpassed that at 8.8 percent.

It was the sales of trucks and crossovers, however, with gas prices below $3 acting as a catalyst, that helped GM to a 6 percent jump, including a 25 percent jump in crossovers and 13 percent in trucks. Other brands posting increases: Lincoln (25 percent), Audi (5.7 percent), Lexus (12 percent)

“Consumers clearly feel confident enough in the economic recovery to make big-ticket purchases,” said NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly. “While we’ve seen a pullback in investments in other industries, particularly in oil-related industries, automotive retailing remains a growth industry.”

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-- Joseph Szczesny, The Detroit Bureau