Is the sedan dead?
Not yet. But the latest sales report from General Motors makes you wonder.
GM's car sales plunged 18.5 percent in April, while Big 3 light-truck sales, led by GM, rose 1.3 percent.
"I don't know anybody, including the Asians, who would say they are happy with their car business," says Gary Dilts, the Chrysler group's senior vice president of sales. "Cars that have never had incentives now have subvented lease rates for thousands of dollars."
In April, car sales fell 9 percent in the U.S. market. Truck sales rose 4.5 percent, and the total light-vehicle market was down 2.4 percent.
Budget-minded buyers of family vehicles, including cars and minivans, were chilled by the sluggish economy, tough job market and war jitters, Dilts says.
Overall, the sales picture was mixed. U.S. sales dropped 2.4 percent from a strong April 2002. Still, that's an annually adjusted rate of 16.5 million units, a solid rebound from March's rate of 15.9 million.
The U.S. car-truck sales ratio in April was 48:52 vs. 51:49 in April 2002.
The Big 3 all shed market share last month. GM lost 0.7 percentage points; Ford Motor Co. lost 0.1 points; and the Chrysler group, excluding Mercedes, lost 0.6 points.