Sales of GM, Ford were down in Oct.

Chrysler, Toyota report gains exceeding 10%

November 04, 2003|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

DETROIT - General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. said their U.S. sales fell last month. The automakers blamed new fees and fires in California. DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler and Toyota Motor Corp. said their sales rose more than 10 percent.

Ford's sales fell 1.9 percent to 282,468 vehicles, including imports and heavy-duty trucks, and GM, the world's largest automaker, said its sales fell 7.2 percent to 363,043 cars and trucks. Both companies did worse than analysts had predicted.

Toyota's sales rose 12 percent, while Nissan Motor Co.'s sales increased 18 percent.

"People are moving to imports," said Frank A. Ursomarso, whose Union Park Automotive group in Wilmington, Del., sells cars and trucks from seven brands including Honda Motor Co., Ford and GM. "Maybe the fires or some other factor played a role this month, but that's temporary. Imports continue to gain, and domestic cars continue to struggle."

U.S. auto sales rose at a rate equal to 16.2 million on an annual basis, up from a rate of 15.4 million in October last year, according to the average of analysts and economists polled by Bloomberg News. Analysts had expected sales to rise 1.7 percent at Ford and 7.7 percent at Chrysler, and remain unchanged at GM.

"The wildfires in California and a falloff in sales [in California], that spiked last month with the increase in licensing fees in October, were a factor," Paul Ballew, GM's chief market analyst, said during a conference call. "Sales in California were down much more than the rest of the nation. Did it ding us a little bit? It probably did. Did it ding the industry? It probably did."

U.S. automakers' share of the market excluding import brands such as Ford's Volvo, fell to 60.1 percent in the first nine months of this year from 61.7 percent in year-earlier period, according to Autodata Corp. The share of Toyota, Nissan, Honda Motor Co. and other Asian companies rose to a record 32.9 percent from 31.4 percent, Autodata said.

Ford, the world's No. 2 automaker, said passenger car sales fell 9.1 percent and truck sales rose 2.2 percent.

Ford's sales of the F-Series pickups, the industry's top-selling line of vehicles, rose 12 percent to 68,828 and accounted for 28 percent of its sales. Sales of Taurus, Ford's best-selling car, dropped 5 percent to 26,849, and sales of the Focus small car fell 12 percent to 19,275. Sales of the Explorer sport-utility fell 16 percent to 30,124.

GM's sales totaled 363,043 vehicles, including imports and heavy-duty trucks, the company said. The declines were 8.1 percent for trucks and 5.7 percent for cars.

Sales of the Silverado pickup, the automaker's best-selling vehicle, fell 6.3 percent to 51,624. Sales of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer sport-utility declined 21 percent to 20,129. Sales of the Chevrolet Impala, GM's top-selling car this year, dropped 13 percent to 15,077.

Chrysler's sales rose 11 percent to 166,262 vehicles. Car sales fell 11 percent and truck sales rose 17 percent, Chrysler said.

Sales of Ram pickups reached 41,162, the vehicles second-best total for the month after 42,183 in October 1998. Sales of the Grand Cherokee sport-utility rose 7.6 percent to 18,968.

Sales of Nissan and Infiniti autos grew 18 percent to 68,046, and Hyundai Motor Co. posted a 9.8 percent gain in sales to 28,878. Toyota's sales rose 12 percent to 151,157 cars and trucks.

GM shares rose 23 cents to close at $42.90; Ford's shares added 9 cents to $12.22, and DaimlerChrysler's U.S. shares rose 51 cents to $37.45.

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