Big Three, Asian Rivals Weather Rough Sales Month

After beating GM in global production, Toyota continues to put pressure on the Big Three with North American sales for April.

For April, Ford Motor Co. continued to see its sales slip, with year-over-year totals declining 13 percent to 228,623 units in April. Actual sales results were relatively close to the forecast of a 15.1 percent drop in sales.

The bright spot in Ford’s April sales were its crossover utilities, which increased 28 percent. The company remains optimistic about future sales in the sector.

“The success of our newest products - Ford Fusion, Edge, Lincoln MKX, Ford Super Duty and Ford Expedition - gives us encouragement that we’re creating the products our customers really want, and we’re beginning to stabilize our retail market share,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s President of the Americas.

DaimlerChrysler fared better than Ford, seeing a sales increase for the Chrysler Group. For April, Chrysler posted a better-than-predicted 2 percent rise to 193,104 units. Chrysler was helped by strong sales for its Jeep brand and minivan incentives, which increased 29 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

Overall, DaimlerChrysler’s sales rose 1 percent to 213,999 units.

Rounding out the Big Three, GM was expected to have a 4.1 percent decrease in sales for April. The company reported a decrease of 2.2 percent to 311,687 units delivered. GM indicated a retail sales increase of 3.6 percent and a daily rental sales decrease of 36 percent.

“April sales were consistent with the pattern of the last few quarters - retail sales up, daily rental down, and continued strength of our launch vehicles,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president, GM North American Sales, Service and Marketing.

Asian rival Nissan North America reported an 11.1 percent decrease to 71,124 units for the month. Nissan, which was expected to post a 3.2 percent increase, saw a 14 percent drop in sales to 61,179 units. The Infiniti division was up 12 percent to 9,945 units.

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) sold 210,457 units, increasing 3.7 percent. expected a 4.9 percent increase for Toyota, but the Toyota division only rose 2.3 percent to 184,462. Lexus was up 14.1 percent to 25,995.

Toyota’s passenger car sales were down 1.5 percent to 104,239. Light truck sales, led by the RAV4 and Tundra, were up 7.8 percent to 80,223.

“Despite rising gas prices, Tundra posted best-ever April sales as the market’s appetite for light trucks picked up this month,” said Jim Lentz, TMS executive vice president.

As a whole, the automotive industry was expected to see sluggish sales for April.

“This month, due to two less selling days, a decrease in production and reduced fleet sales by domestic manufacturers, we will have one of the weakest Aprils in recent history for total industry sales,” said Jesse Toprak, Executive Director of Industry Analysis for