Automakers down double digits for March


Ford, GM and Toyota all handed in double-digit percentage declines in March U.S. sales, capping a first quarter in which the industry struggled through a brutal sales environment, reported MarketWatch.

"This is a very challenging external environment, reflecting a seismic shift in consumer preferences," Jim Farley, chief of Ford’s marketing division, said. "I’d like to be able to tell you that the worst is behind us, but I really can’t give you that assurance."

He said Q2 could prove to be the year’s most difficult. As for March, Ford posted a 14.3% decline from a year ago to 227,143 vehicles. The car side, which benefited from a surge in sales of its Focus sedan, declined 9.6%, while trucks saw a 16.7% retreat, with the top-selling F-Series pickup down 23.8%.

The Edge crossover provided a lift with a 23.8% jump, but Mustang saw demand wane, down 30.9% to 10,180 vehicles. Land Rover posted a 16.6% drop, though Jaguar reported a 5.1% rise. Volvo, which will remain a luxury brand for Ford, posted a 13.1% decline.

GM endured an even bigger blow, with light vehicle sales falling almost 19% to 280,713 cars and trucks, down from 345,417 a year ago. Cars backed off 14.2%, while light trucks retreated by 21.7%.

Saab, the lowest-volume GM brand, posted the only increase from a year earlier. Hummer, on the other end of the spectrum, fell 28.8% to 3,451 vehicles.

Chrysler dropped more than 19% to 166,386 cars and trucks. Cars fell 13% and trucks shed 22%.
Toyota said March sales fell 10% to 217,730 from 242,675 a year earlier.

Total passenger car sales fell to 129,778 from 140,009, and light truck sales declined to 87,952 from 102,666. Toyota brand sales fell 9.8% and its luxury Lexus division saw sales fall 14%.

Honda reported that sales dropped more than 3% from 143,392 a year ago.

Mercedes Benz said March U.S. sales dropped to 20,808 vehicles from 21,612 a year ago. BMW posted March sales of 27,404 vehicles, down 5.4% from 28,980 a year ago. Sales of BMW brand vehicles dropped 8.7% to 23,115 units, while Mini sales rose 17.3% to 4,289 for the same period.

Incentive spending for the industry was mostly flat in March compared with the prior month at about 2,519 per vehicle, according to the story citing figures.

For Chrysler led the way, spending 4,142 per vehicle. That’s up from 3,520 last month and slightly lower than a year ago.

GM’s spending was mostly flat from last month at 3,271 per vehicle, but up from 2,832 a year ago. Ford managed to pare its promotional spend to 3,017 per car and truck, down from both the prior month and March 2007.

Nissan and Toyota cut back from February as well, while Honda upped its incentives fractionally.

By brand, Cadillac spent the most, at 5,532, with Saab coming in a close second, at 5,501. Taking into account the price of the vehicle, Dodge led the way, spending 16.7% of sticker to help move the product, according to MarketWatch. 

RBR/TVBR observation: Interesting to see Toyota starting to share the pain of this economy as well. It’s not about quality issues anymore, it’s about no jobs and a dollar worth next to nothing.