Toyota, Honda, Nissan U.S. Sales Rise; GM, Ford Fall
July 3 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp., Honda
Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. posted monthly U.S. sales increases for
the fifth time this year, stealing a bigger slice of the world's
biggest auto market from domestic rivals.
Toyota reported a 10 percent gain in June, Honda rose 11 percent, and
Nissan was up 23 percent. Ford's 8.1 percent drop was its eighth
consecutive monthly decline. DaimlerChrysler's volume slipped 1.8
percent. General Motors Corp. plunged 21 percent.
New products and gains in quality surveys failed to translate into
vehicle sales for the U.S. automakers. Detroit- based GM and Ford are
trying to stem losses in part by paring sales to so-called fleet
customers such as rental-car companies, which get discounts for buying
``This is a market that is moving toward the strength of the import
carmakers,'' Kevin Tynan, an Argus Research Corp. analyst in New York,
said in an interview. ``It will be increasingly difficult for the
domestic companies to win sales.''
Toyota, helped by rising U.S. sales, overtook GM as the world's
largest seller of vehicles in the first quarter. Toyota is also
gaining on Ford to become No. 2 in the U.S.
Toyota has been helped by demand for fuel-efficient vehicles, such as
the Prius hybrid, as gasoline prices have topped $3 a gallon in the
Fleets accounted for more than a quarter of their sales in 2006, when
GM posted a $1.98 billion loss and Ford reported a record $12.6
Ford's sales to rental-car companies fell 39 percent in June and 30
percent for the first six months.
At the same time, the company said sales of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury
brand models to individual buyers rose last month, the first such
increase since October. The company didn't provide figures.
Ford said its Edge crossover wagon, which sold 12,470 vehicles in
June, helped the company's retail results. Ford also had a 20 percent
increase in Focus small cars, to 19,000.
The company's F-Series pickup trucks fell 0.5 percent in June, the
eighth straight monthly decline. The June results were better than the
11.2 percent drop for the F-Series in the first half of the year. The
Fusion sedan had a 9.2 percent slide in June.
Nissan, Hyundai Rising
Nissan's improvement was led by an 83 percent surge in sales of Altima
sedans, as well as higher sales of compact Sentra cars and Versa
subcompacts, the Tokyo-based company said in an e- mailed statement.
Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's largest automaker, had an 11 percent
increase in June.
Industry sales of cars and light trucks probably rose to an annual
rate of 16.4 million, the average estimate of 10 analysts and 12
economists in a survey by Bloomberg News. The rate in June 2006 was
16.3 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
George Magliano, Global Insight Inc.'s research director in New York,
said he projects June sales at an annual rate in the ``low-16 million
GM and Ford ``are cutting back on fleet sales. The economy being what
it is, there's not a lot going on,'' Magliano said. ``Every time we
expect strength in this market, it hasn't shown it.''
GM and Ford introduced new incentives late in June.
On June 26, GM began offering three-year, no-interest financing and
$1,000 discounts on many 2006 and 2007 Buick, Pontiac, Chevrolet and
GMC models. The promotion is scheduled to run through July 9.
Ford also began providing three-year, no-interest loans last week on
its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, in an effort to clear dealer
lots for 2008 models.
In addition, the automaker is touting the results of the annual J.D.
Power & Associates Initial Quality Study released June 6. Ford had
four brands, Lincoln, Jaguar, Mercury and Ford, in the survey's top
GM, Ford and Chrysler have relied on truck sales for profits, models
that have been most affected by gasoline prices.
``It's been a tough go for these companies because they've been
largely dependent on big vehicles and the market is moving away from
big vehicles,'' said John Casesa, managing partner at Casesa Strategic
Advisors in New York.
There were 27 selling days in June, one more than a year earlier. The
analysts' estimates for GM, Ford and Chrysler adjust for the
difference. Bloomberg and some automakers use unadjusted percentage
comparisons, which would be about 4 points higher.