- Jul 4, 2004
Ok, time for GM and Ford to start making a comeback, anytime in the near future would be good.SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's largest automaker, overtook General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. in U.S. retail market share in early October as auto sales plunged after domestic automakers' ended employee-discount offers, according to an industry report.
Toyota gained four points of U.S. market share in the first nine days of October, to 18.2 percent, according to data from the Power Information Network. GM's sales fell 57 percent and Ford's fell 45 percent as sales in the U.S. auto industry dropped 33 percent from a year earlier. The figures don't include fleet sales, which can account for 30 percent of domestic automakers' sales, Power said.
"The aftermath of the employee-pricing programs is having a dramatic impact on automotive retail sales in October," Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates, said Friday. "A lot could happen between now and the end of the month, but at this point, we're on track for an October like we haven't seen since the early 1990s."
GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler scored sharp gains in U.S. sales earlier this summer by offering consumers the same discounts that employees pay. The programs helped clear out 2005 models before losing steam. The automakers discontinued the offers this month in hopes that the 2006 models would sell without generous incentives.
GM's early October sales decline prompted Standard & Poor's Equity analyst Efraim Levy on Friday to lower his fourth-quarter earnings forecast on GM by 97 percent to 69 cents a share. GM reports third-quarter earnings Monday. Levy and 17 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expect GM to report its fourth-consecutive quarterly loss.
A lot could change before the end of the month, said Jim Sanfilippo, senior analyst at Automotive Marketing Consultants Inc. in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He estimates that 20 percent of sales are booked on the last day of any month.
Ford's chief sales analyst, George Pipas, said Thursday that October sales would likely fall because the employee discounts spurred customers to buy sooner than they might have. Ford's sales dropped 20 percent in September.
Through September, fleet sales accounted for 28 percent of Ford's sales, 25 percent of GM's sales and 25 percent of Chrysler's sales, spokespeople for the firms said. Toyota's fleet sales average 6 percent to 7 percent of sales, a Toyota spokesman said.