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Automakers post major drops in sales


Automakers post major drops in sales

Ford down 29.5%; GM holds off Toyota; Honda bucks trends

Andrew Grossman
and Richard Truett
Automotive News
July 1, 2008 - 11:06 am ET
UPDATED: 7/1/08 9:22 p.m. EDT

June June June 6 mos. 6 mos. Pct.
2008 2007 chng. 2008 2007 chng.
Aston Martin 140 171 –18.1% 840 171 –

BMW Group* 26,192 29,429 –11.0% 158,135 164,548 –3.9%
Chrysler LLC** 117,457 183,347 –35.9% 867,826 1,113,093 –22.0%
Daimler AG*** 22,142 19,615 12.9% 130,774 118,376 10.5%
Ford/Lincoln/Mercury 166,461 230,782 –27.9% 1,105,027 1,285,442 –14.0%
Aston Martin – – – – 856 –
Jaguar – 1,410 – 7,021 8,461 –17.0%
Land Rover – 4,160 – 14,292 22,842 –37.4%
Volvo 7,001 9,572 –26.9% 46,181 53,808 –14.2%
Ford Motor Co.**** 173,462 245,924 –29.5% 1,172,521 1,371,409 –14.5%

General Motors***** 262,329 320,668 –18.2% 1,589,235 1,897,720 –16.3%
American Honda† 142,539 140,935 1.1% 798,358 766,929 4.1%
Hyundai Group†† 78,325 75,656 3.5% 388,685 390,987 –0.6%
Isuzu 364 676 –46.2% 3,339 3,777 –11.6%
Mazda 23,771 25,761 –7.7% 153,141 152,684 0.3%
Mitsubishi 7,494 13,014 –42.4% 53,883 70,357 –23.4%

Nissan††† 75,848 92,213 –17.7% 522,322 535,379 –2.4%
Porsche 2,650 3,267 –18.9% 15,086 17,859 –15.5%

Subaru 18,007 17,108 5.3% 94,095 90,154 4.4%
Suzuki 9,785 10,325 –5.2% 56,248 57,488 –2.2%

Tata Motors‡ 3,560 – – 3,560 – –
Toyota‡‡ 193,234 245,739 –21.4% 1,240,085 1,331,074 –6.8%
VW‡‡‡ 31,626 31,226 1.3% 162,175 162,847 –0.4%
Other (estimate) 652 624 4.5% 3,987 3,842 3.8%
TOTAL 1,189,577 1,455,698 –18.3% 7,414,295 8,248,694 –10.1%
Numbers in this table are calculated by Automotive News based on actual monthly sales reported by the manufacturers and may differ from numbers reported elsewhere.
Source: Automotive News Data Center
Note: Other includes estimates for Ferrari, Lamborghini and Lotus; actuals for Maserati
*Includes Mini and Rolls-Royce
**DaimlerChrysler sold the Chrysler group on Aug. 3, 2007
***Incudes Maybach, Mercedes-Benz and Smart
****Includes Jaguar and Land Rover (through May 31, 2008) and Volvo; Aston Martin's estimated sales are included through May 2007
*****Includes Saab
†Includes Honda Division and Acura
††Includes Hyundai and Kia
†††Includes Nissan Division and Infiniti
‡Tata Motors includes Jaguar and Land Rover as of June 1, 2008
‡‡Includes Toyota Division, Lexus and Scion
‡‡‡Includes VW, Audi and Bentley

With gasoline prices at record highs and consumer confidence plummeting, U.S. auto sales declined sharply in June. But General Motors still managed to outsell Toyota during the month.

Total June U.S. light-vehicle sales were down 18.3 percent from a year ago. For the first six month, sales fell 10.1 percent from the same period a year ago.

The bad news reached the White House late Tuesday.
"It's a tough time for automakers," White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters on Air Force One enroute to Mississippi. "We're now in a period of slower growth and that's always going to have an impact on that important sector."

As of Monday, June 30, gasoline prices were up almost 40 percent from a year earlier. Surveys of consumers show that they're reluctant to make big purchases. Market troubles and inflation worries dominate headlines.

That hurt automakers reliant on trucks and SUVs -- especially Chrysler LLC, whose sales plummeted 36 percent last month. But it gave a boost to Honda, which doesn't have much exposure to low-mpg vehicles. Honda's June sales increased 1.1 percent to 142,539 units. Its year-to-date sales increased 4.1 percent to 798,358.

"Consumers are putting off major purchase decisions and being much more selective about what they buy," said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. "The auto industry is in transition. Rising gas prices are resulting in marked shifts in buying behavior."

GM remains leader
GM hung on to its position as the country's largest automaker by sales. It sold 262,329 light vehicles in June, 18.2 percent fewer than last year. Toyota Motor Corp., whose sales sank 21.4 percent, sold 193,234.
For the first half of the year, GM's sales are down 16.3 percent to 1,589,235. Toyota's year-to-date sales are down 6.8 percent to 1,240,085.
GM got an upward kick from its 72-hour sale during the last week in June. Dealers told Automotive News that the discounts led to a huge jump in vehicle sales.

"We weren't running as bad as everyone was saying, but the sale certainly helped us," Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing, said in a conference call with reporters and analysts. "It's a simple offer; customers can sit at home and do the math. It stimulated traffic."

Chrysler craters
Chrysler's sales were awful, declining 36 percent in June. For the year to date, the automaker's sales are down 22 percent. It was hard to find good news for Chrysler, with almost every model suffering double-digit declines. Chrysler continued to offer customers $2.99-a-gallon gasoline for three years in June, but it didn't seem to help.

Like the rest of the industry, Chrysler saw a dramatic drop in pickup truck sales, with the Dodge Dakota falling 49 percent and the Ram 48 percent.
Unlike the rest of the industry, Chrysler's car sales also were dismal. The Dodge Caliber's sales were down 44 percent to 6,099 in June. For the year so far, the Caliber's sales are flat. The Dodge Charger sold 28 percent fewer units than in June, down 11 percent for the year.

The only gains Chrysler posted were in minivans.

Ford sinks
Ford Motor Co. sales were down 29.5 percent in June compared with the same month last year, to 173,462 vehicles. Ford sales were down 14.5 percent in the first half of 2008 compared with last year, to 1,172,521 vehicles.

Ford figures in this story include Jaguar and Land Rover sales from previous periods and are not adjusted for sales days. Ford's sale of the two brands to Tata Motors closed June 1.

Without Jaguar and Land Rover included in June 2007 sales, Ford's sales fell 27.8 percent last month. On a year-to-date basis, sales decreased 14.0 percent to 1,151,208, excluding Jaguar and Land Rover.
"Consumer fundamentals and consumer confidence deteriorated as the first half unfolded," Jim Farley, Ford's vice president for marketing and communications, said in a statement. "The economy enters the second half of the year with a notable absence of momentum and a high degree of uncertainty."

Ford partner Mazda saw overall June sales decline 7.7 percent in June on weak truck sales, to 23,771. Mazda's car sales rose 2.6 percent to 18,844.

Large declines
The huge increase in gasoline prices hit sales of large vehicles the hardest. The average price of a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline rose 2 percent last month. Gasoline is up 38.2 percent from a year ago.

Ford's SUV sales declined 54.7 percent in June and are down 34.4 percent in the first half of the year compared with the first six months of 2007. Neither comparison includes Land Rover.

June sales of Ford's once-best-selling F-series pickup trucks dropped 40.5 percent. Sales of the Expedition SUV were down 59.8 percent, while sales of the Explorer SUV dropped 52.0 percent.

Sales of Toyota's light trucks fell 31.1 percent in June to 61,268. Toyota's Tundra pickup saw a decline of 47.0 percent last month. For the year to date, Tundra sales were down 7.0 percent. Toyota sold 9,597 units of its RAV4 crossover in June -- 26.4 percent fewer than last year.
GM's light-truck sales declined 16.0 percent -- less than its car sales. The automaker managed to eke out a 0.1 percent gain in sales of its Chevrolet Suburban SUV, to 5,549 units sold in June. Sales of the GMC Silverado pickup truck fell 23.7 percent to 36,939.

Overall, GM's sales of full-sized pickups were down 25.0 percent in June and 26.5 percent year to date.

It appears GM's relative success with light trucks in June was due in large part to aggressive discounting.

Light-truck sales made up 58.3 percent of GM's sales in June 2008, 1.5 percentage points more than in June 2007. GM's cars are still doing better for the year to date, having had their sales drop only 9.3 percent compared with 20.9 percent for light trucks.

One of the clearest illustrations of the falloff in consumer demand for light trucks is the fate of Chrysler's Jeep brand. Its sales dropped 40 percent in June to 26,642.

Nissan North America said June sales of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles totaled 75,847, compared with 92,213 sold last June -- a 17.7 percent decrease. For the first six months, Nissan sales dropped 2.4 percent from a year ago.
Sales of Nissan's fuel-efficient sedans and small cars were up in June but not enough to counter a deep drop in the automaker's trucks and SUVs. And that dragged sales into negative territory for the month.
The Versa small car, for example, posted its best month ever with sales of 8,873, a 17.4 percent gain from sales reported last June.

Small gains
Many small cars saw sales increases in June.
The Fit, Civic and Accord propelled Honda past truck-heavy Chrysler for the second straight month. All three vehicles posted double-digit sales increases for June and the year to date.

Toyota's car sales also strengthened, rising 1.9 percent in June to 121,966. Toyota's car sales are down 1.8 percent for the year to date to 762,061. Those numbers are hurt by Toyota's Lexus Division, which has fewer small cars and saw sales decline 16.6 percent in June.

Toyota continued to struggle to meet demand for the Prius. Sales of the car fell 25.5 percent to 11,765 in June.

Ford's Fusion sedan did well and was the brand's only model that posted a sales increase in June compared with a year ago, rising 18.4 percent. For the year to date, Fusion sales increased 11.7 percent.
Ford's total car sales were down 12.0 percent from June 2007 but up 0.1 percent in the first half of this year.

The Focus also remains a bright spot for Ford. Its sales were down 5.5 percent in June compared with a year ago but were up 27.6 percent for the year to date.

The Mercury Milan and Volvo's V70 wagon and C70 convertible were the only other Ford models that posted sales increases in June.

GM's Chevrolet Malibu and Cobalt cars both had strong months. Sales of the restyled and re-engineered Malibu increased 73.4 percent to 13,650. Sales of the Cobalt increased 21.6 percent to 20,888.

Volkswagen Group of America Inc. said its sales increased 0.3 percent in June from a year ago to 23,208 vehicles. It was VW's best sales month since August 2006.

Sales of the New Beetle increased 8.5 percent, and sales of the convertible Eos rose 14 percent. VW's Touareg SUV also did well, up 8.5 percent. Sales of VW's most popular model, the Jetta, were down 8.5 percent to 8,973. VW sales were up 0.6 percent for the first half of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007.

Kia Motors America had its best June ever, with sales of 28,292 vehicles. The 7.6 percent gain for its entire lineup included a doubling of sales for the Optima sedan. Kia sold 6,865 units of its second-largest volume model, up from 3,106 in June 2007.

Luxury mixed
BMW Group had a tough June, with total sales off 11.0 percent to 26,155. BMW's year-to-date sales were down 3.9 percent to 157,913. But the automaker's Mini brand did well, selling 5,211 units in June, an increase of 24.8 percent.

Porsche Cars North America's U.S. sales declined 19 percent in June from a year ago to 2,650 units. Porsche's sales were down 15.5 percent for the year to date, to 15,086.

Mercedes-Benz USA sales were flat in June at 19,576 vehicles, down 0.1 percent. For the first half of the year, sales are up 0.9 percent to 119,279.
Sales at GM's Saab division were miserable. They fell 57.1 percent in June, to 1,872. Worse still was GM's Hummer division, which the automaker is considering selling. Hummer sales were down 59.3 percent last month to 2,072.

June had three fewer selling days and one fewer weekend this year, which magnified the dour results.
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