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Honda, Hyundai Lead Asian Automakers' U.S. Market-Share Gains
May 2 (Bloomberg) -- Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co.'s April
U.S. sales fell at a slower rate than the industry, as Asian carmakers
added market share again. Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. said
conditions may improve in May.
Sales slid 25 percent for Honda and 14 percent for Hyundai, as the
industry total tumbled 34 percent from a year earlier. Even as
deliveries dropped 42 percent for Toyota and 38 percent for Nissan, the
Asia-based companies raised their combined U.S. share 0.8 percentage
point to 45.5 percent, Autodata Corp. said.
"Among Asian brands, Hyundai and Honda are in the best position," Jesse
Toprak, director of industry analysis for auto-research firm Edmunds.com
in Santa Monica, California, said in an interview. "Hyundai's
value-brand image is helping them in these times when consumers are
worried about money and jobs. Honda has the right product mix to be
ready for any kind of change in consumer demand."
April ended with Chrysler LLC's Chapter 11 filing, the swine flu
outbreak and General Motors Corp. racing to beat a June 1 deadline to
restructure without ending up in court. That tempered any benefits from
rising consumer confidence, and industry sales contracted for an 18th
"The cloud of bankruptcy is still very much hanging there," said Rebecca
Lindland, an IHS Global Insight analyst in Lexington, Massachusetts. "We
can't just see these little glimmers of hope in consumer confidence. We
need to see an actual sustained recovery in the economy."
April sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 9.3 million
units, according to Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey- based Autodata. That was
less than the 9.9 million estimate of 7 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Toyota, the world's largest automaker, sold 126,540 cars and light
trucks in the U.S. last month, a decline from 217,700 a year earlier and
fewer than analysts expected.
Still, the company is seeing signs of improvement and as a result
boosted North American output of Camry sedans and RAV4 sport-utility
vehicles, Bob Carter, U.S. vice president of Toyota-brand sales, said in
a conference call yesterday.
"Dealers are asking for more Camry and RAV4 inventory, so we're
increasing production," he said, without elaborating. Output cuts Toyota
has made at North American plants since last year have trimmed inventory
levels to about 58 days, he said.
The U.S. contraction of the past six months "is nearing its end," Carter
April market share for the Toyota City, Japan-based company shrank 2
percentage points from a year earlier to 15.4 percent, according to
Honda's sales fell to 101,029 vehicles from 135,180 a year earlier, said
Chris Martin, a spokesman for the second-biggest Japanese automaker.
The company's increased incentives for Accord allowed the sedan to
become the top-selling U.S. vehicle, surpassing Ford Motor Co.'s
F-Series pickups and Toyota's Camry for the month. Civic, Honda's
top-selling small car, also outsold Camry, while trailing F-Series.
Average incentive spending rose 7.9 percent at Honda to $1,439 a
vehicle, Edmunds.com said. Honda's Martin wouldn't give a figure, while
Toyota's Carter said Accord incentive spending surged "more than 50
percent" last month.
Honda's market share jumped 1.5 percentage points to 12.3 percent. The
Tokyo-based company ranked ahead of Chrysler as fourth in U.S. sales
volume, behind GM, Ford and Toyota.
Nissan, sixth in U.S. sales, sold 47,190 vehicles, a drop from 75,855.
Sales and customer visits to dealers began improving in late April, Al
Castignetti, the Tokyo-based company's U.S. vice president, said in an
"I'm a lot more optimistic about May than I've been about another month
in a while," he said.
The 14 percent decline for South Korea's Hyundai, seventh in U.S. sales,
was the smallest among major automakers Kia Motors Corp., an affiliate
of Seoul-based Hyundai, reported a 15 percent decrease.
Automakers' spending on incentives averaged $3,031 a vehicle, a 29
percent increase from a year earlier, according to Edmunds.com. That was
down from the record of $3,165 in March.
Consumer sentiment surged last month to its highest since before the
collapse of credit markets late last year, according to a
Reuters/University of Michigan index released yesterday.