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Toyota beats Ford as number two in US

Web posted at: 6/3/2007 8:16:46
Source ::: AFP

chicago • Japanese automaker Toyota pushed further into the US market in May as strong sales growth reported Friday helped it seize the number two spot from rival Ford Motor Co for the fifth time.

Toyota commanded 17.2 per cent of the massive US market in May compared with 15.8 per cent a year ago, while Ford slipped to just 15.6 per cent from 17.5 per cent in May of 2006, according to market research firm Autodata.

“It’s an indication of things to come,” said Jesse Toprak, an auto industry analyst at

“In a couple of months we think this will be a permanent phenomenon,” he said. “It’s a function of Toyota’s sustained growth as well as Ford’s preplanned production cuts.”

General Motors, which was overtaken globally by Toyota in the first quarter of 2007, improved its position in the top spot as demand for its new product line-up pushed its market share up to 23.5 per cent from 22.5 per cent in May of 2006.

DaimlerChrysler, which recently announced plans to sell the Chrysler unit to New York-based private equity group Cerberus — managed to hold its market share nearly steady at 12.7 per cent of the market.

The Big Three US automakers nonetheless saw their combined market share slip to 51.8 per cent from 52.9 per cent a year ago while Asian brands commanded 41.4 per cent, up from 40.2 per cent in May of 2006, Autodata reported.

European brands were little changed at 6.8 per cent of the market.

GM’s US sales rose an adjusted 4.7 per cent in May to 375,682 vehicles as a new product lineup offset planned reductions in sales to rental car companies, the automaker said. Retail sales rose 8.5 per cent to 279,731 vehicles.

“Our May results were extremely positive as we saw strong total and retail sales increases,” said Mark LaNeve, Vice-President, GM North American Sales, Service and Marketing.

Toyota saw sales rise an adjusted 9.7 per cent to a record of 269,023 vehicles in May on the back of strong demand for Toyota’s petrol-sipping Prius hybrid and its new full-sized Tundra pick-up truck, Toyota said.

“As fuel prices and consumer confidence rose, the industry saw a move to passenger cars,” said Jim Lentz, executive Vice-President of Toyota Motor Sales. “As for hybrids, the market’s appetite continues unabated, with Prius also establishing an all-time record.”

Prius sales rose 185 per cent to 24,009 cars compared with May 2006 while sales of the Tundra pickup truck rose 114 per cent from April to 17,727 trucks. Ford’s US sales fell an unadjusted 6.8 per cent in May to 259,470 vehicles amid a sharp drop in passenger car sales.

Ford said the bulk of the loss came from a planned reduction in low-margin sales to rental companies. While retail sales were down three percent in May, Ford said the month showed the best performance this year.

DaimlerChrysler AG saw an unadjusted four percent increase in US auto sales in May with total group sales of 221,164 vehicles, the automaker said on Friday.

Mercedes Benz USA reported its highest May on record with sales of 21,771 units, up one per cent from May 2006 while the Chrysler unit saw sales rise four per cent to 199,393 vehicles in May.

American Honda saw monthly sales fall an adjusted 1.4 per cent but they still managed to hit a record breaking 145,367 vehicles, bolstered by all-time record sales of the compact Civic and subcompact Fit and a new May record for the CR-V crossover sports utility vehicle — the best-selling SUV in the United States

“Small is big right now,” said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda. “Smaller vehicles have become more attractive for multiple reasons and we expect this trend to continue for the time being.”
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