Ford's U.S. sales plummeted 21 per cent in September on
deep cuts in sales to car rental agencies. Toyota sales slipped four
per cent, but General Motors and Honda fared better in a tough
General Motors Corp. said sales were flat compared with last
September. The biggest U.S. automaker got a boost from its new
lineup of pickups as well as the new Cadillac CTS, which posted a 73
per cent sales increase.
Honda Motor Co. reported its U.S. sales rose more than nine per
Ford Motor Co.'s car sales dropped 39 per cent compared with last
September, while its truck sales slipped five per cent. Sales of
Ford's F-150 pickup, long the best-selling vehicle in the United
States, fell 21 per cent as newer pickups from GM and Toyota Motor
Corp. stole its thunder.
Ford said a 62 per cent reduction in sales to rental car fleets
partly was to blame. Ford has been trying to cut back on rental
sales, which can hurt brand image and profits.
Ford's overall sales were down 13 per cent for the first nine
months of the year. Ford hasn't seen a month when sales rose since
October 2006, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank.
George Pipas, Ford's top sales analyst, said Ford is on track to
cut sales to daily rental fleets by more than its original goal of
30 per cent this year, or 135,000 vehicles.
``At the very beginning of the year, we said planned reductions
in daily rental were of such a magnitude that we expected a sales
decline every month this year,'' Pipas said in a conference call
with investors and media. ``What has transpired has been in line
with what our expectations were at the beginning of the year.''
Toyota's decline from a year ago was led by its trucks, which
were off 5.7 per cent. Car sales were down 3.5 per cent, the company
reported, but it said the figures were compared with a best-ever
Analysts have said that a drop in Toyota sales usually is a sign
of a bad month for all automakers since the company had been showing
increases during most months.
Honda bucked the trend thanks to a 7.2 per cent rise in car
sales, while truck sales were up 12.5 per cent. Honda Motor, which
includes Honda and the Acura luxury brand, said its Honda division
reported a record September, led by its new Accord sedan and CR-V
Many analysts predicted that jittery consumers put off big-ticket
purchases in reaction to the credit crunch, high gas prices and the
troubled housing market. Last week's two-day strike against GM by
the United Auto Workers wasn't expected to have much impact. Wall
Street analysts predicted overall sales would be down four per cent
for the month.
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 adjusted for sales days. There were 25 sales days last
month and 26 in September 2006.
Ford's shares rose 31 cents, or 3.7 per cent, to US$8.54 in
Tuesday trading as investors anticipated a new contract with the UAW
that could help Ford. GM shares rose $1.05, or 2.9 per cent, to
$37.10. Toyota's U.S. shares fell 71 cents to US$118.04.