Trucks on top
In November, light trucks reached a pinnacle that constantly is pursued but seldom attained. They outsold cars.
Not by much; the margin was only 573 sales. But carve it in stone: For November, light trucks were the best-selling vehicles in the land.
Light trucks began a string of annual sales records in 1993, and another peak is assured this year.
But market share is something else. Cars cling to the lead, although their margin has shrunk from 3.12 million in 1993 to 540,617 last year. It is major news when trucks grab the monthly sales title.
It has happened only three times: in November 1998; in December 1999; and last month, which was the closest of all. Trucks had 50.023 percent of the market last month, and cars had 49.977 percent. For the first 11 months of this year, cars had a bit more breathing room. They led by 587,354 sales and had a share of 51.8 percent.
For years, sales analysts have been predicting that it is just a matter of time until trucks surpass cars in the sales column. The new-product money is going to trucks, and trucks already dominate the sales scene at Ford Motor Co. (60 percent) and the Chrysler group (71 percent). The truck share of GM sales is 49 percent and growing.
Chalk it up
Car and light-truck sales slipped 1.5 percent from last year in October and 3.4 percent in November. But the industry will have a sales record to celebrate at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31.
Eleven-month sales, excluding medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, were 16,166,134, higher than any other full year except 1999.
The Nov. 30 total was 792,213 short of 1999's record full-year total of 16,958,347. You have to go back to February 1993 to find a monthly total below 1 million.
To put it another way: In December the industry needs 31,689 deliveries per selling day to break the record. In November, the industry averaged 49,460 sales per selling day.
The seers fear that sales may drop as low as 16 million next year, down about 6 percent from this year. A decline is never good news, but consider: In the 104-year history of the U.S. auto industry, sales have topped 16 million only three times: in 1986, 1999 and 2000.
(Ssh!) Toyota has 10%
Toyota doesn't brag a lot about its ever-increasing sales; there's no sense in awakening congressional protectionists.
But sometimes a Toyota achievement screams for recognition. Like last month's 10.2 percent share of the entire U.S. car and light-truck market. That figure is for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. It includes Toyota and Lexus cars and trucks.
It wasn't Toyota's first time as a 10 percenter. The company had 10.6 percent of the U.S. pie last January and has been above 9 percent each month since July.
Would Toyota like to snare 10 percent of the American market for a full year? Of course it would - but, once again, say it in a whisper.
Should Toyota Motor Sales reach that goal, it would be the first foreign-based maker to do so. Volkswagen in its halcyon days of the 1960s never topped 6 percent.
You can e-mail John K. Teahen Jr. at [email protected]