GM, Ford sales plunge, Chrysler falls to No. 4
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors and Ford Motor ended a difficult
year with another plunge in U.S. sales, while Chrysler Group reported an
unexpected rise in sales in the month, although it wasn't enough to stop its
parent, DaimlerChrysler, from falling to fourth place in full-year U.S.
sales for the first time.
GM (Charts) sales fell 13 percent in the month, although the automaker
reported sales on per-selling-day basis that showed only a 9.7 percent
decline. The fall left GM with sales 8.7 percent lower in 2006 than the year
The slide at GM in December was much worse than had been forecast. Auto
sales tracker Edmunds.com had forecast only a 5.2 percent drop for the
largest U.S. automaker in raw terms, and sales down only narrowly on a
per-sales day. Shares of Dow component GM plunged about 5 percent following
Still, Mark LaNeve, a GM vice president, said in the statement that GM's
December sales topped internal sales targets, especially in full-size pickup
trucks and SUVs, where GM debuted new models in 2006.
Alex Rosten, Manager of market analysis for Edmunds, said he thinks that
much of the problem in GM sales was that it was offering a 2007 model
pick-up with little or no incentives to induce buyers, while Dodge and Ford
were making big cash-back and other offers to move their glut of 2006 model
pickups still on dealers' lots.
"It shows people were shopping for the best deal, not the newest product,"
said Rosten. "Dodge's incentives hit $4,400, which was roughly double what
GM offered. But in a nutshell, it wasn't bad news for GM because they're
making more money on the vehicles they're selling. Once the '06's are gone,
the next six months should be solid for GM trucks."
Ford, Chrysler lose ground to Toyota
Ford Motor (Charts) reported that U.S. sales fell 12.8 percent from December
a year earlier. As bad as that was, it was better than the forecast of
nearly a 20 percent drop made by Edmunds.com, and George Pipas, Ford's
manager of sales analysis, said Ford topped its internal target and regained
lost market share in December after falling short of its own forecasts in
November. Ford shares were little changed on the report.
Still the nation's No. 2 automaker ended the year with sales of 2.9 million
vehicles, off 7.9 percent from 2005 total. And it could well be in the No. 3
position in U.S. sales in 2007.
Ford's December sales were once again less than reported by Toyota Motor
(Charts), and its current U.S. market share, which Pipas estimates at 14.8
percent, would likely put it behind Toyota's share in 2007. The Japanese
automaker, which is also expected to pass GM in global sales in 2007, had
better than 15 percent of the U.S. market in 2006.
Ford unveils Ford unveils Mustang-based concept
While sales of Ford's car models posted a 5.4 percent rise, its light truck
models saw sales tumble 14.3 percent. That was crucial for the company,
which depends on sales of the more expensive pickups and SUVs for its
profits. Even with the plunge, light truck models account for 62 percent of
Ford's F-series pickup truck - the best selling U.S. vehicle - saw sales off
21 percent in December from year earlier levels, and saw full-year sales
down nearly 12 percent, dropping more than 100,000. Pipas blamed the
combination of gas prices and a weak home-building market for the decline,
as the pickup is popular with builders.
Chrysler reported its U.S. sales gained 1 percent to 190,415 vehicles in the
month, up 1 percent from year-earlier sales. Edmunds.com had been looking
for a 6.7 percent decline in sales for the period.
But Mercedes-Benz, the luxury brand which, like Chrysler, is owned by
DaimlerChrysler (Charts), reported a 10 percent drop in sales, leaving the
overall company with a 1 percent drop in U.S. sales in December from a year
Even with better-than-expected November results, Chrysler ended the year
with U.S. sales of 2.1 million, off 7 percent from 2005, while Mercedes
gained 11 percent for the year. That left DaimlerChrysler's sales here down
5 percent to 2.4 million vehicles.
The result dropped DaimlerChrysler into fourth place in U.S. sales for a
full year for the first time.
Toyota meanwhile posted a slightly-better-than 12 percent rise in both
December and full-year sales, topping Edmunds forecasts. Its full year sales
came in at 2.5 million, and the company is likely poised for more gains in
2007 as it introduces a full-size pickup for the first time and continues to
offer fuel efficient cars for those concerned about gasoline prices.
Like Toyota, Honda Motor (Charts) also reported record U.S. sales for the
full year, although its December sales were narrowly lower than a year
earlier, it topped Edmunds' forecast. The sales tracker is looking for the
other major Japanese automaker, Nissan (Charts), to report a drop in
December sales later in the day Wednesday.
The brave might not live forever but the timid do not live at all