DETROIT -- General Motors' U.S. car and truck sales jumped 27 percent in April as the economy continued to improve and $4 a gallon gasoline pushed buyers into more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The largest U.S. car company sold 232,538 vehicles last month, led by a shift to small cars and crossover vehicles.
"Recently, rising fuel prices have led many to re-think their vehicle choice," said Don Johnson, GM's vice president of U.S. sales.
GM, the first major automaker to report sales Tuesday, is much better prepared for higher gas prices than in the past. It offers a wider selection of smaller vehicles. GM used to rely more on sales of pickup trucks and large SUV for profits. But sales of those vehicles would fall when pump prices spiked because they used more gasoline.
The company sold more than 25,000 Chevrolet Cruze compact cars in April, the best month for the car since its introduction in October.
Johnson said the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers posted big sales increases in April as the shift toward smaller and more efficient vehicles accelerated from March.
Crossovers are like sport utility vehicles, but are more fuel efficient because they are built on car platforms.
Analysts expect overall industry sales in the U.S. to increase 19 percent from April 2010
Compact cars made up nearly 15 percent of U.S. sales a year ago, but that rose to about 17 percent in April, Johnson said.