Surging Toyota is running ahead of Ford in retail sales so far this month and is breathing down General Motors' neck, according to data compiled by J.D. Power and Associates.
In the first 13 days of November, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.'s retail market share was 17.9 percent compared with Ford Motor Co.'s 15.3 percent.
During the year-ago period, Ford led Toyota 18.3 percent to 15.4 percent.
GM still leads the pack with 18.8 percent retail share, down from 21.0 percent a year ago.
The figures include Toyota's Lexus and Scion brands, Ford's Premier Automotive Group luxury brands, and GM's Saab and Hummer.
Industrywide retail sales were off 15 percent compared with the first 13 days of November 2004. But they were a big improvement over early October, when retail sales after nine days had dropped 33 percent compared with the year-ago period.
J.D. Power's data takes the pulse of retail sales in the first half of each month. The Power Information Network tracks retail sales at more than 10,000 dealership points in the United States.
Both GM and Ford retail sales declined sharply from November 2004. GM sales were down 24 percent; Ford's slipped 30 percent.
DaimlerChrysler ranked fourth with a 13.6 percent share. Honda, in fifth place, saw its share climb from 10.2 percent a year ago to 12.2 percent for the first 13 days of November 2005.
Ford and GM should bounce back, said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis for J.D. Power.
"We do expect to see a strong end of the year because of these three incentive programs" introduced last week by the Big 3, Libby said.
GM, Ford and the Chrysler group are returning to the incentives game after just one month of value pricing. All three launched incentive programs last week, hoping to end the hangover brought on by the end of the big summer programs.
"Seeing this convinces us that we made the right decision in the past to stay with a strategy of value pricing, and not to be tempted into the game of 'price-up' and then increased incentives," said Toyota Division General Manager Jim Lentz. "We are not going through the ups and downs that others are suffering."
Lentz was interviewed last at the media introduction of the 2007 Camry.
Jerry Reynolds, owner of Prestige Ford in Garland, Texas, said Ford's new Keep It Simple pricing program will give Ford the boost it needs.
"The Ford dealers of America are the best group of dealers in the industry and have always been Ford's secret weapon," Reynolds said. "When we pull together, it'll take more than Toyota to outsell us."
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