MARCH AUTO SALES
Japan 3 post gains as Detroit automakers fall
Dale Jewett | Automotive News / April 3, 2007 - 2:02 pm /
4/3/2007 5:37 P.M.
March's U.S. auto sales results have a familiar look: Toyota Motor
Sales U.S.A. Inc. and American Honda Motor Co. posted gains while
General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler saw their numbers
Overall, U.S. auto sales in March were up 0.7 percent from a year ago
to 1,542,498 units. But for the year to date, sales are down 1.2
percent to 3,889,952 units.
The top six automakers ranked like this for the month:
No. 1: GM, down 4.0 percent to 345,418 units.
No. 2: Ford Motor, down 9.0 percent to 263,582 units.
No. 3: Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., up 11.7 percent to 242,675
No. 4: DaimlerChrysler, down 4.1 percent to 228,066 units.
No. 5: American Honda Motor Co., up 11.3 percent to 143,392 units.
No. 6: Nissan North America, up 7.8 percent to 111,119 units.
After the first three months of this year, those six automakers line
up in the same order.
A year ago, for both March sales and the year-to-date total,
DaimlerChrysler held the No. 3 spot with Toyota Motor Sales in fourth
Both Ford and GM cited a reduction in sales to rental fleets as a
factor in their sales declines in March, a strategy they have been
pursuing for several months.
Market share shifts
As a group, Toyota Motor Sales, American Honda and Nissan North
America took 32.2 percent of U.S. auto sales in March, a gain of 2.9
percentage points compared with March 2006. The combined market share
of Ford Motor, GM and DaimlerChrysler for the month totaled 54.3
percent, down 3.6 percentage points from a year earlier.
Rising sales for Japanese automakers weren't confined to Toyota, Honda
Sales at Mazda North America Operations rose 47.9 percent in March
compared with a year earlier, to 37,742 units. The increase was
propelled by the CX-7 and CX-9 crossovers. March U.S. sales were also
up at Mitsubishi Motors North America and American Suzuki Motor Corp.
Korea's Hyundai Group continues to gain. Combined U.S. sales of the
Hyundai and Kia brands were up 2.6 percent in March to 69,551 units --
making it the seventh-ranked automaker for the month. For the year to
date, the Hyundai group's U.S. sales are up 4.1 percent to 177,808
American automakers weren't the only losers. Despite a record-setting
month for its Audi brand, the Volkswagen group saw its U.S. sales fall
8.6 percent in March to 25,677 units. Sales were down for every model
in the VW lineup except the Eos convertible, which was not on sale a
On an annualized basis, Wall Street forecasts for industrywide U.S.
auto sales for March had been projected at 16.2 million to 16.6
million vehicles compared with 16.6 million a year ago.
Incentives down slightly
Last month, sales incentives offered to new-car buyers in the United
States fell slightly, according to Edmunds.com, an auto industry
tracking Web site.
The average manufacturer incentive on cars and light trucks sold in
the United States was $2,512 in March, down 0.4 percent from a year
earlier, Edmunds.com said.
Sales incentives are widely tracked as an indication of the relative
profitability of various automakers and the pressure they face to move
On an industrywide basis, the total sales discounts amounted to $3.8
billion for March, with the U.S. automakers accounting for 69 percent
of that total, Edmunds.com said.
Reuters contributed to this report.