DETROIT -- There's no doubt the past five years have been brutal for the Detroit automakers. But you may not realize just how unevenly the pain has been felt among the Big 3.
The relentless U.S. sales onslaught by Asian automakers -- revealed starkly again last week when final 2005 figures were released -- has taken widely divergent bites out of General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler group.
The bloodiest victim? Ford, by a staggering margin.
Compare the 2005 and 2000 sales figures: Ford Motor, including its foreign brands, lost more than a million units of sales in the United States, a quarter of the automaker's 2000 volume. Sales of the Ford brand alone fell by 823,955 vehicles. Lincoln and Mercury also took severe hits.
Put another way, Ford Motor lost the equivalent of three full Mercury divisions since 2000, which was the industry's biggest sales year on record. Mercury sold 359,143 units in 2000.
By contrast, General Motors, including Saab, dropped 461,373 units during the same period, down 9.4 percent.
But GM had bright spots. Its largest brand, Chevrolet, gained 46,419 units amid the Japanese onslaught. Cadillac and GMC grew, too.
The Chrysler group suffered early in the five-year period but is newly resurgent. The Chrysler brand has gained sales, and the group's market share is up from 2004.
The Big 3's plunge can't be blamed on the decline of the overall market since 2000. The U.S. record of 17.4 million sales of cars and light trucks in 2000 was nearly matched in 2005, the third highest year with nearly 17 million light vehicles sold.
The real problem for Ford, GM and Chrysler during the five-year period: steady growth by Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai as they lured U.S. car buyers out of domestic vehicles.