Wednesday, April 05, 2006

GM, Ford sales down in March; Toyota surges

GM, Ford sales down in March; Toyota surges (story link)

DEE-ANN DURBIN / Associated PressApril 3, 2006

DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. saw sales fall again last month despite some popular new models, while Toyota Motor Corp. continued its surge, reporting an increase of 7 percent over last March.

Automakers reported monthly sales figures Monday.

GM's sales were down nearly 15 percent for the year. Car sales dropped 22 percent as GM eased off on sales to rental fleets, while truck and sport utility vehicle sales were down 9 percent despite brisk sales of the redesigned Chevrolet Tahoe. GM's sales were down 5 percent for the quarter.

Toyota said its March U.S. sales set a monthly record for the company despite a 22 percent drop for the Prius hybrid, a perennial best-seller. Jim Press, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., said Toyota was short on production for the Prius and couldn't get enough to the U.S. market, where dealers have only a five-day supply.

Toyota's sales were up 7 percent for the month, led by a 15 percent increase in truck and SUV sales. Toyota's sales also were up 7 percent for the quarter.

Ford said its sales fell 5 percent in March, largely because of waning interest in its SUVs.
Sales of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars were flat for the month compared to last March, but truck and SUV sales were down 7 percent. Sales of the Ford Explorer took a 25 percent dive. Ford's sales were down 2 percent for the first quarter.

Still, Ford's F-Series truck held its own, posting a 5.5 percent increase for the month. Ford said it was the third month in a row that sales rose for the nation's best-selling vehicle, despite growing competition from Asian imports. Ford U.S. sales analysis manager George Pipas said March is traditionally a big month for truck sales at the automaker.

The Associated Press reports unadjusted figures, calculating the percentage change in the total number of vehicles sold in one month compared with the same month a year earlier. Some automakers report percentages that are adjusted for the number of sales days in a month.

GM shares were down 50 cents to $20.77 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Toyota's U.S. shares were up $1.62 to $110.52, while Ford shares slipped 17 cents to $7.79 on the NYSE.


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