Toyota tops 'clunkers' sales, GM down
Washington -- Detroit's Three automakers lost ground to foreign rivals
in the latest tally of "cash for clunkers" sales, as Toyota Motor Corp.
dethroned General Motors Co. as the top seller.
Toyota has sold 18.9 percent of vehicles purchased through the clunkers
program, surpassing GM, which has sold 17.6 percent. As of Friday
morning, dealers had submitted voucher requests for just over $1.5
billion, representing 358,851 vehicle purchases.
Detroit's three automakers sold 42.1 percent of all clunker
replacements, which is down from an initial 47 percent of sales -- and
slightly below the automakers' 44 percent U.S. market share.
Ford Motor Co. is in third place with a 15.4 percent market share; Honda
Motor Co. is in fourth with 12.9 percent. Chrysler Group LLC's share
fell to 9.1 percent, down from 10.6 percent on Aug. 5.
Foreign automakers now dominate the top 10 list of vehicles sold through
the program, with just two Ford vehicles on the list: the Ford Focus FWD
in third and the Ford Escape FWD in seventh.
Both the Chevrolet Cobalt and Dodge Caliber fell off the top 10 list. GM
spokesman Greg Martin said the program has been "a big sales driver for
us" and said he thought the sales rankings would change.
"The sales will be a lot like the weather in Michigan in the springtime:
It will change at any given time," Martin said.
GM had sold 18.7 percent of vehicles after the first two weeks of the
program -- ahead of Toyota, which had 17.9 percent as of Aug. 5.
Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said the company's inventory of
fuel-efficient vehicles had sharply fallen as well. "The jury is still
out" on what company finishes first in sales, Michels said. "There are a
lot of variables at work, not the least of which is product
availability, which is affecting everybody."
Chrysler said it had a low inventory of eligible vehicles at the end of
July and was moving to boost production . "The company's plants are
running at full production and we are building vehicles for customer and
dealer orders," Chrysler said in a statement.
Owners can get up to $4,500 government vouchers for trading in vehicles
that have a combined fuel economy of 18 mpg or less and are no more than
35 years old. To get the full $4,500 voucher, a new car must be at least
10 mpg more fuel efficient than the old car. Slightly different rules
apply to light trucks, depending on the size.
Several automakers, including GM, Ford and Toyota, have boosted
production of fuel-efficient models as a result of the sales sparked by
The Toyota Corolla retained the top spot overall, followed by the Honda
Civic. The Toyota Camry is in fourth, followed by the Toyota Prius.
Rounding out the top 10 are the Hyundai Elantra, the Honda Fit in
eighth, the Nissan Versa in ninth and the Honda CR-V FWD in 10th.
About halfway through the $3 billion program, 83 percent of trade-ins
are trucks and 59 percent of new vehicle purchases are cars.
The average fuel economy of the new vehicles is 25 miles per gallon,
while the trade-in mileage is 15.8 mpg -- for an overall increase of 9.2
miles per gallon, or a 58 percent improvement
Cars purchased under the program are, on average, 19 percent above the
average fuel economy of all new cars currently available. Hybrids
account for 4.5 percent of the vehicles purchased, compared to 3 percent
of all U.S vehicle sales in June.
According to Transportation Department data, over half of the top 10 new
vehicles by volume purchased under the program were manufactured in the
United States: the Toyota Corolla, the Ford Focus FWD, the Toyota Camry,
the Ford Escape FWD, and the Honda CR-V 4WD are all manufactured in the U.S.
In total, 208,378 passenger cars have been purchased under the program,
compared to about 150,000 light trucks.
All top 10 traded-in clunkers are U.S. pickup trucks, SUVs and vans.
The program continues to be wildly popular in Michigan.
In the state, Michigan dealers have sought $80.6 million in vehicle
vouchers -- third overall behind California ($152 million) and Texas
On Thursday, the Transportation Department approved plans to allow
customers to order vehicles from automakers -- a move that should
benefit domestic automakers. Many dealers have reported shortages of
fuel efficient U.S. vehicles, in part because GM and Chrysler sharply
reduced production during their stays in bankruptcy.
At the rate of spending, the clunkers program could be out of money by
month's end. Last Friday, President Barack Obama signed a law adding $2
billion to the program, which was in danger of running out of money.
Also Friday, some dealers continued to complain that they haven't been
paid for hundreds of thousands of dollars in voucher requests. The
Transportation Department said it was working quickly to process voucher
A government contractor is adding additional temporary workers to speed
payment of vouchers.