Ford, Chrysler sales tumble

Ford, Chrysler sales tumble 07030113
NEW YORK ( -- Sales tumbled at Ford and DaimlerChrysler last
month, further eroding the troubled automakers' share of the U.S. market.
Ford (Charts), which is likely to give up its long-held No. 2 spot in U.S. sales to rival Toyota Motor (Charts) this year, said sales sank 13 percent, due to a discontinuation of two models sold mainly to rental car companies and weak sales of its best-selling pickup.
DaimlerChrysler (Charts) said U.S. sales slid 8 percent, due to a drop that size at its Chrysler Group unit. It's Mercedes-Benz luxury car unit saw its U.S. sales essentially flat in the month.
Ford said sales to rental car companies, which are less profitable, fell 30 percent from a year earlier, while retail sales slid 8 percent.
Best cars of 2007: Consumer Reports About 22,500 of the year-ago sales were in the Taurus sedan and the Freestar minivan - sold mainly to rental car companies and now discontinued. The most recent months saw no Taurus sales and only 502 of the Freestars.
But the problems weren't limited to weaker rental car sales. Ford's F-Series pickup, the nation's best selling vehicle, saw sales fall by 7,611 from a year ago, as the popular choice for contractors has been hit by the weak housing market and higher fuel prices.
The drop in F-Series sales, coupled with the missing Taurus and Freestyle sales, was responsible for about 90 percent of the slide in Ford sales.
Ford had warned Monday that sales would be be down 10 to 15 percent in February and its results are actually better than the 23 percent drop that had been forecast by, which tracks auto sales.
General Motors (Charts), the nation's No. 1 automaker, has also warned of weak February sales, and the traditional Big Three - GM, Ford and Chrysler - could see their combined sales account for less than half the U.S. market for the first time in February. The other automakers are due to report sales later Thursday.
-- "If they pull a knife, you pull a gun. If they put one of yours in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue." Sean Connery, "The Untouchables"
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