02 April 2008

Big Three Still Shrinking

The Big Three American automobile makers (GM, Chrysler and Ford) are continued to see their market shares collapse in March. Chrysler sales were down 19.4% from sales a year ago. GM sales are down 18.7% in the same time frame. Ford sales are down 14.0%. The only automakers with U.S. sales down more were Mitsubishi (down 14.2%) and Porche (down 24.7%).

The Big Three had a 49.6% combined market share in March.

In this report, "GM includes Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Pontiac, Saab and Saturn. Ford includes Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. Chrysler includes Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep."

But Ford has sold Jaguar and Land Rover to the holding company of India's Tata Motors which produces mostly inexpensive cars for the domestic market (Tata has been hyping a new $2,500 model for months), and Ford has placed Volvo on the auction block. So, the Big Three share of the automobile market is certain to decline again, for this reason alone in addition to any continued sales distress, in April. Ford's divestments will leave Saab as the only European automaker left in the Big Three stable of brands.

High gas prices, a sliding economy and weak American offerings in the small and subcombact car categories are driving the trends this month. Despite the onset of gardening season, nobody wants a new pickup truck, although even in this category, Toyota has outshined American models. The March 2007 to March 2008 sales trends for selected models were as follows:

Ford F-Series -23.8%
Chevrolet Silverado -23.5%
GMC Sierra -3.5%
Dodge Ram -31.3%
Toyota Tacoma -14.6%
Toyota Tundra +8.4%

Meanwhile, small vehicle sales have soared:

"Sales of the Ford Focus jumped 24 percent for the month, while Toyota's subcompact Yaris saw sales rise 83 percent and Honda's subcompact Fit surged 74 percent."

Other models outperforming overall U.S. car sales trends include:

Toyota Camry -4.2%
Honda Accord -0.8%
Honda Civic +10.2%
Nissan Altima +14.1%
Chevrolet Impala +1.8%
Toyota Prius +7.7%
Ford Fusion +0.6%
Pontiac G6 +21.9%
Chevrolet Malibu +7.2%

The only small car model to see big declines was the Toyota Corolla/Matrix (-26.9%) which is delcining because it is being phased out in favor of Toyota's Scion brand and Yaris model.

The SUV market somehow seems to have held its own, however, although the Dodge Carvan model minivan has seen sales drop 21.3%.

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