Big Three lose ground in biggest U.S. market
WASHINGTON -- Auto sales plunged 39 percent in California in the last
three months of 2008, while Detroit's Big Three saw its market share
fall to less than one-third of all sales in the nation's largest auto
New car and light truck registrations in California fell 23 percent to
1.45 million, down from 1.88 million in 2007, while U.S. auto sales were
down just 18 percent last year, according to a report issued Thursday by
the California New Car Dealers Association.
Passenger cars accounted for 60.1 percent of sales in 2008 in
California, up from 54.2 percent in 2007. For the entire country,
passenger cars accounted for 53.2 percent of total sales.
Detroit's Big Three saw its market share in the Golden State fall 4.7
percent to 32.4 percent. The Big Three had market share of 47.5 percent
nationwide in 2008.
Big Three offerings were trounced in several categories. In the minivan
segment, Chrysler LLC's Town & Country and Dodge Caravan accounted for
13 percent of all minivans registered. By comparison, the Honda Odyssey
and Toyota Sienna each had 37 percent shares.
In midsize vehicles, the Chevrolet Malibu was 3.9 percent of sales and
the Ford Fusion 3.8 percent. The Toyota Camry accounted for 36 percent
of midsize sales and Honda Accord 27.6 percent, based on new car
In California, Chrysler brand sales fell 49 percent while its Dodge
brand fell 35 percent and Jeep dropped 33 percent. Both Chrysler and
Nissan Motor Co. each had a 7.5 percent market share in California.
California wants to impose a 30 percent reduction in tailpipe emissions
by 2016. President Barack Obama directed the Environmental Protection
Agency on Monday to review the request for a waiver under the Clean Air
Act by California and 13 other states to impose their own standards.
California has said it believes those standards would reduce new car
sales by 4.7 percent by 2020 because of the higher costs associated with
complying with the emissions standards.
California auto dealers lamented the nearly 450,000 vehicle sales drop
this year -- more than many states sell in a year.
"It's the largest single-year drop I've ever seen and the main reason
that the communities we serve are starving for sales tax revenue," said
Gary Shipman, chairman of the California dealers association, who also
operates Toyota and Subaru dealerships in Santa Cruz.