Slumping sales in March hit GM hard, falling 15 percent while Toyota reported its highest ever monthly sales yet of 7 percent, led by a 15 percent increase in truck and SUV sales. GM has been giving up U.S. market share to Asian competitors in 2005, leaving Toyota close behind in a battle of who can claim the title of world’s largest automaker.
Car sales for GM dropped 22 percent compared with March 2005 as it eased off on sales to rental fleets, while truck and SUV sales were down 9 percent despite brisk sales of the redesigned Chevrolet Tahoe, which saw a 20 percent increase.
According to a Ford spokesperson, sales fell 5 percent in March, due largely to waning interest in its SUVs. Ford, Lincoln and Mercury car sales were flat compared with March 2005, but truck and SUV sales were down 7 percent, with the Ford Explorer taking a 25 percent dive. Ford’s F-Series truck posted a 5.5 percent increase for the month, the third consecutive month that sales rose for the nation’s best-selling vehicle, despite growing Asian competition.
Jim Press, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said lingering gas price concerns are leading buyers to hybrids and smaller, less expensive vehicles. The Prius hybrid dropped 22 percent in sales during March, only because the manufacturer was short on production. U.S. dealers have only a five-day supply of Toyota’s top-selling hybrid.