DETROIT - General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler unit, the largest U.S. automakers, reported yesterday that vehicles sales fell last month, led by a drop in passenger cars.
GM sales fell 0.5 percent, Ford sales dropped 12 percent, and Chrysler sales declined 6.4 percent. Car sales fell 8.1 percent at GM, 25 percent at Ford and 29 percent at Chrysler.
Cars are "the Achilles' heel of our lineup right now," George Pipas, Ford sales analyst, told analysts in a conference call.
Ford said it will make fewer cars and trucks than it had projected in the third quarter because last month's power blackout reduced production in Michigan and Ontario. Ford said it also will cut fourth-quarter production.
GM said it sold 472,427 vehicles last month.
Ford's car and trucks sales declined to 311,084 last month, including imports and heavy-duty trucks. The drop was 15 percent without adjusting for one more sales day in August last year, Ford said.
Chrysler's vehicle sales declined to 190,388.
Ford's stock fell 37 cents to close at $11.94 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange. GM's shares added 13 cents to $42.61, and DaimlerChrysler's U.S. shares rose 31 cents to $39.63.
GM, Ford and Chrysler boosted spending on rebates and low-cost loans to clear dealer lots for 2004 models. That may have helped push the annual U.S. sales rate last month to a 2003 high of 18.3 million, according to the average estimate of seven analysts. The rate in August last year was 18.7 million cars and trucks, the year's strongest month.
Among specific models, sales of Ford's Taurus sedan fell 18 percent to 25,981, and sales of the Focus small car slid 19 percent to 19,373. Sales of F-Series pickups, the industry's top-selling line of vehicles, fell 2.7 percent to 73,698. Sales of the Explorer, the top-selling sport utility vehicle, fell 26 percent to 36,254.
GM sold 472,427 vehicles last month. Sales of the company's biggest brand, Chevrolet, rose 5.8 percent, led by a 73 percent boost for the Impala sedan and a 23 percent increase for full-size pickup trucks. GM's total truck sales rose 5.2 percent.
Nissan Motor Co., Japan's third-largest automaker, said yesterday that its U.S. sales of Nissan and Infiniti cars and trucks rose 14.2 percent in August from the 2002 period to 80,820.
Toyota Motor Corp., fourth in U.S. sales, reported an 11.4 percent increase in sales of Toyota and Lexus autos, its highest month of U.S. sales in 46 years. Japan's largest automaker sold 200,482 cars and trucks last month, with Toyota sales up 11 percent to 174,072 and Lexus luxury autos rising 14 percent to 26,410. Sales of youth-oriented Scion cars, currently available only in California, were 1,813 in the brand's second full month.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG said it sold 23,068 BMW and Mini-brand vehicles last month, 3.4 percent more than the 22,315 sold in August a year ago, helped by demand for the company's 3- Series models and new Z4 convertible. Adjusting for one less selling day in August this year, sales gained 7.2 percent.
Sales at DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes Car Group fell 4.2 percent to 17,583 cars and trucks from 18,348 a year ago. On an adjusted basis, the luxury carmaker's sales declined 0.6 percent.
Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest automaker, said U.S. sales slid 7 percent from August last year. The company sold 32,376 vehicles in the United States last month, compared with 34,810 in the year-earlier month. Sales fell 3.5 percent adjusted for one less sales day compared with August last year.
Hyundai Motor Co.'s U.S. sales improved 5.9 percent last month to 41,073 vehicles, led by demand for Sonata sedans and Santa Fe sport utility vehicles. Kia Motor Corp., a Hyundai affiliate, said sales of its low-priced autos grew 9 percent in the month to 24,758, the South Korean automaker's highest month of sales since entering the U.S. market.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Japan's No. 4 automaker, reported sales of 27,380, a 9 percent decline from a year ago.