Other Editorials

Big Three?

Dale Jewett
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Automotive News

Toyota passes Ford in July
Honda moves ahead of Chrysler group

How tough was it for General Motors and Ford Motor Co. in July? Just look at how the automakers ranked by U.S. sales for the month:

1. General Motors

2. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

3. Ford Motor Co.

That's right -- Toyota outsold Ford.

Also, American Honda Motor Co. outsold the Chrysler group for the month, and came within 20,161 units of overtaking DaimlerChrysler.

In June, Toyota ranked behind GM and Ford, while the Chrysler group outsold American Honda.

Analysts had expected the Detroit 3 to post a big drop in U.S. sales for July -- and they did. GM was down 22.5 percent, Ford Motor was down 34.3 percent, and the Chrysler group was down 37.4 percent.

But the comparisons with sales in July 2005 are somewhat misleading. A year ago, the Detroit 3 launched employee price incentive programs that triggered the biggest sales month in the industry's history.

That wasn't a factor for Toyota Motor Sales or American Honda. Those automakers didn't jump in on the employee pricing game, and both said their July sales this year set records for the month.

Toyota Motor's sales totaled 241,826 units, up 11.7 percent from July 2005. For the year to date, Toyota's U.S. sales are up 10.1 percent from the same period last year.

American Honda's U.S. sales in July totaled 151,804 units, up 6.0 percent from July 2005. The automaker's year-to-date U.S. sales are up 6.9 percent from last year to 893,031 units.

Japanese rival Nissan North America is having a tougher time as it awaits the arrival of new or redesigned products. The automaker's U.S. sales in July, which include the Infiniti brand, dropped 19.5 percent from July 2005 to 86,408 units. For the year to date, Nissan North America's U.S. sales are down 8.0 percent to 598,176 units.

Overall, U.S. auto sales in July totaled 1,493,329 units, down 17.4 percent from July 2005.

After seven months, U.S. auto sales totaled 9,868,617 units, down 5.0 percent from the same period last year. The seasonally adjusted annualized rate for July was 16,835,727, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

You may e-mail Dale Jewett at djewett@crain.com