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Here is a quick summary of sales--note Ford's decline despite its promotion of the new F150 (which has resulted in sales gains for the truck):

GM said its sales fell 2% on a daily-selling-rate basis, using the industry convention that there were 26 selling days this past January and 25 in January 2003. Without adjusting for the extra sales day, GM sales rose 1.9%. The No. 1 auto maker called the latest results "below expectations" as its U.S. market share fell to 26.4% from 26.7%. Still, GM left its North American first-quarter production forecast unchanged at 1.35 million vehicles, down 7% from a year earlier.

UNEVEN ROAD

Sales of cars and light trucks for January from some big automakers.

Car Maker Sales Jan. '04 Change From Jan. '03
GM 296,788 +1.90%
Ford 229,238 –5.3
DaimlerChrysler 162,205 +12.0
Toyota 143,729 +20.4
Honda 90,173 +0.2
Nissan 72,164 +30.7

Note: Percentage changes aren't adjusted for different number of selling days between January 2003 and January 2004

Source: Autodata

...The company will be relying mostly on strong sales of its new F-150 pickup truck. F-series sales were up 10% compared with a year ago, and Ford executives said they believe the trucks will hit record sales levels in 2004...

Ford, which reports sales on an unadjusted basis, said sales fell 5.3% in January despite an incentive-fueled burst of sales for the new F-150 pickup truck. Ford's market share skidded to 20.4% from 22.2% a year earlier. Ford sales analyst George Pipas attributed part of Ford's decline to the company's decision to scale back low-margin sales to daily rental fleets. But Mr. Pipas and Ford economist Jarlath Costello said in a conference call that underlying economic trends are positive. "Auto-buying intentions are close to record levels," Mr. Costello said. Mr. Pipas noted that sales of Ford's Econoline commercial vans rose 12.6% -- a sign of a rise in business investment.

Meanwhile, sales at American Honda Motor Co. (HMC) were flat and Toyota Motor Corp.'s (TM) were up 15.8%. Analysts said the foreign auto makers, particularly the Japanese, took advantage of the incentives slowdown to offer some aggressive pricing of their own.

"This is another case of the Japanese eating Detroit's lunch," said David Healy, an auto industry analyst with Burnham Securities. "I don't think they'll succeed at backing down again - incentives didn't change much. It's more of the same."
 
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