"Sales at Chrysler, GM and Ford are falling
as buyers defect to Toyota,
the worlds second-biggest automaker,
and other Asian rivals."
GM, Ford December U.S. Auto Sales Fall; Toyota Gains
Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and
reported lower U.S. auto sales for a third straight month as Asian
automakers led by
Toyota Motor Corp. likely gained market share.
GM, the worlds largest automaker, said today its U.S. December sales
fell 10 percent
to 392,041 cars and trucks. Ford, the second-biggest U.S. carmaker,
said its sales
dropped 9 percent to 267,881, while DaimlerChrysler, No. 3 in the U.S.,
and Mercedes-Benz vehicle sales fell 2 percent to 220,641. Toyotas
sales rose 8.2
percent to 203,279.
Cars and light trucks in the U.S. sold at an annual rate of 16.9
million units last month,
down from 17.9 million a year earlier, according to a Bloomberg survey
of analysts and
economists. Sales in 2005 probably matched the 16.9 million of a year
The domestics have been suffering and the imports have been gaining,
Anwyl, president of automotive data service Edmunds.com. The real
Whats going to happen in 2006?
Sales at Chrysler, GM and Ford are falling as buyers defect to Toyota,
second-biggest automaker, and other Asian rivals. The declines are a
gains in June and July, when U.S. carmakers offered employee discounts
for all buyers.
GM hasnt had a sales increase since July, and Ford reported lower U.S.
month since August.
Toyotas U.S. sales for all of 2005 rose 10 percent to 2.26 million
the biggest unit increase among all automakers.
GMs December car sales fell 19 percent to 131,687 as models such as the
fell 22 percent and the Chevy Monte Carlo declined 36 percent.
Light-truck sales declined 4.7 percent as Chevrolet Suburban
fell 36 percent and the Chevy Tahoe dipped 12 percent. Sales of large
pickups such as the
Chevy Silverado rose 1.7 percent.
For the year, GM reported a 4 percent decline to 4.52 million vehicles.
Chrysler sales dropped 5 percent to 189,449 in December, the Stuttgart,
company said in a statement. The U.S. unit still posted its second
straight annual U.S. sales gain.
Mercedes-Benz sales in December increased 17 percent to 31,192,
bringing them to a record for the year.
Chrysler started offering a debit card with $2,400 toward gasoline
purchases along with
free maintenance for two years and extended warranties on most 2005 and
2006 models after October
sales fell 3.1 percent. Chrysler today extended the program until Jan.
9, when it will announce new incentives,
spokesman Kevin McCormick said.
Sales of Dearborn, Michigan-based Fords F-Series pickup trucks, the
best-selling line of vehicles in the U.S.,
fell 6.2 percent to 89,491. The company sold 901,463 F-Series in 2005,
a 4 percent decline, while still hitting its
target of selling at least 900,000 of the vehicles.
Nissan Motor Co., Japans No. 2 carmaker, sold 91,253 cars and trucks
last month, down 1.1 percent from a
year earlier, Jed Connelly, the automakers head of U.S. sales, said in
For all of 2005, Tokyo-based Nissan sold 1.076 million vehicles to U.S.
drivers, up 9.1 percent from 2004 and
the first time the company has exceeded 1 million units in a calendar
year, Connelly said by phone from Nissans
Canton, Mississippi, assembly plant.
Honda Motor Co.s U.S. December sales fell 3.3 percent to 132,800 cars
and trucks. Cars posted a 16 percent decline,
led by a 31 percent drop in Accord sedans, while light-truck sales rose
14.1 percent on an 18 percent gain in Pilot SUV
sales and the addition of its Ridgeline pickup.
The Asians continue to stay the course, said David Lucas, an analyst
with Autodata Corp.
A rise in gasoline prices to records last year helped cars regain
market share against pickup trucks and SUVs
for the first time in 25 years, benefiting Asian companies that sell
smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, said John Murphy,
an analyst with Merrill Lynch & Co.
GMs 2006 earnings per share forecast was cut by JPMorgan Chase & Co.
today to 70 cents from $2.35 because
planned cuts in manufacturing capacity and health-care costs wont have
a significant effect on results until 2007.
Sales at Detroit-based GM, which along with Ford has depended on trucks
and SUVs to boost profit,
declined 3.8 percent through November, while Fords fell 4.3 percent.
GMs Chevrolet ended 2005 as the biggest-selling nameplate in the U.S.,
with a total of 2.67 million vehicles sold.
It was the first time since 1986 that Chevrolet reached No. 1, beating
out Fords namesake Ford division with 2.65 million.
Chevrolets TrailBlazer also took over from Fords Explorer as the top-
GMs total market share through November was
down 1.3 percentage points from a year earlier to 26.2 percent. Ford
dropped 1.2 percentage points to 18.6 percent.
Septembers hurricanes and $3 a gallon gasoline served as a turning
point in consumer preference, Murphy wrote in a Dec. 22
research report. If this trend continues in 06, the Big Three, which
rely heavily on light trucks for the majority of their sales,
could experience accelerated market share losses.
General Motors, which
lost $4.8 billion in North America in the first nine months of 2005,
had its credit rating reduced to below investment grade, or
junk, last year as sales declined. Standard & Poors,
in lowering GMs rating a fourth time in 2005, last month said falling
sales of large SUVs made it
dubious that the carmaker can restore North American profit with new
models in 2006.
GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner said on Dec. 15 that even if
the large SUV market
doesnt recover in 2006, GM has a huge ownership base that will buy its
next-generation models. GM will get a profit and sales boost by
mid-2006 when redesigned vehicles are on the market, said Joseph
Amaturo, an analyst with Calyon Securities in New York.
Global Insights Lindland said GMs market share will
fall to 25.2 percent in 2006, and Fords will drop to 17.6 percent.
Toyotas share will climb to 13.9 percent, allowing it to surpass
Chrysler as third-biggest in U.S. sales.
The market share for domestic automakers will end 2005 at 58 percent,
down from 58.7 percent in 2004, and may
decline to 56 percent in 2006, Lindland said.
Robert Barry, an analyst with Goldman, Sachs & Co., estimated
automakers can sell 16.8 million cars and trucks to
U.S. consumers in 2006 as long as they lower prices aggressively.
While December was likely the biggest month since July, when GM, Ford
and Chrysler offered employee prices to consumers,
year-end incentives werent enough to push sales above year-ago levels.
Manufacturers incentives through Dec. 15
fell 8 percent from a year earlier, while dealer incentives rose 13
percent, according to Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research
in Bandon, Oregon.
Auto sales are expressed on an annualized basis to reflect seasonal
shifts in buying patterns.
Last years monthly seasonally adjusted rates ranged from 14.7 million
in October to 20.9 million in July,
according to Bloomberg data. Automakers have sold an average of 17
million vehicles annually in the U.S. this decade.