The U.S. sales of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. fell in December, hurt by declines in demand for trucks, while Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. continued to gain ground.
Reuters reported that GM and Ford sales fell about 10% each, when adjusted for an extra selling day a year earlier. DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler unit was the lone U.S. automaker to make gains as its adjusted sales rose 4%. Toyota’s sales rose more than 16%, driven by strong demand for its Corolla and Camry sedans.
Ford said its sales were hurt by a 21% decline in sales of F-series pickup trucks – its top-selling vehicle. Explorer SUV sales fell 29.5%. Overall truck sales were down 14% due to higher gas prices and a soft housing market.
“The (truck) segment will still continue to be under pressure … at least in the early part of 2007,” Ford sales analyst George Pipas said on a conference call. “The new products will help offset some of the softness we are seeing in housing.”
Ford’s car sales fell almost 10%.
Industrywide truck sales fell 19% from last year’s strong December to 204,916 units while cars edged lower to 129,585 from 131,687.
Edmunds.com analyst Alex Rosten said the unexpected drop in truck sales was a matter of car buyers seeking out the best prices.
“General Motors reduced incentives while Ford and Dodge ramped up theirs,” he said. “Even though GM has more new pickups and SUVs, the better deals came from its competitors.”
For the full year, sales fell almost 9% to 4,454,385 cars and trucks.