For the first time in more than a decade, Chevrolet has outsold Ford Division.
The flip-flop in the No. 1 and No. 2 sales slots occurred as General Motors increased sales by 0.5 percent over February 2001 levels.
It was the first time Chevy has led the market since July 1991. Chevrolet sold 235,173 cars and light trucks; Ford Division had 222,599 sales.
Heavy sales incentives boosted the preliminary U.S. total to 1,306,567 cars and light trucks, down 3.3 percent from their year-ago mark. But the tally was higher than analysts expected; they had forecast a 10 percent decline.
Eight automakers reported higher sales in February: General Motors, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, BMW, Kia, Hyundai and Daewoo.
Each of the Big 3 informed analysts Friday, March 1, that their sales continue to be dampened by falling fleet sales. Ford Motor Co. and GM reported that they had experienced 29 percent declines in fleet sales in February. DaimlerChrysler would not say how much its fleet sales had fallen, except that the drop was similar to that of its competitors.
Light trucks outsold cars for the month, 663,695 to 642,972. Ford told analysts it is stepping up production of trucks and cars in an effort to increase inventories from what it called "totally unacceptable" inventory levels for the spring selling period.
The company said it had a 72-day supply of cars and trucks at the end of February, not enough for the spring selling period.