Ford Motor Co.s challenges in the showroom continued in September as the automakers U.S. sales dropped 20.4 percent from a year earlier. Ford has not posted a monthly sales gain since October 2006.
U.S. auto sales in September fell 2.9 percent from a year earlier to 1,315,357 units, reflecting the drag from a weaker housing market and economic uncertainty. After nine months this year, U.S. auto sales are down 2.8 percent from the same period last year to 12,351,475 units.
September also marked a U.S. sales decline for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., down 4.4 percent from a year earlier. The Volkswagen group, which covers the VW, Audi and Bentley brands, also posted a drop in U.S. sales for the month, down 4.5 percent from a year ago.
Market leader General Motors saw its U.S. sales rise 0.3 percent in September. GM cited a strong start for the redesigned 2008 Cadillac CTS, and strong sales of the Saturn Outlook/GMC Acadia/Buick Enclave crossovers.
When we get the combination of new product and retail truck sales, thats a one-two punch, said Paul Ballew, GMs executive director of global market and industry analysis.
The launch of the redesigned Accord sedan helped propel U.S. sales at American Honda Motor Co., which rose 9.4 percent in September compared with a year earlier.
Nissan North Americas U.S. sales jumped 6.7 percent in September from a year earlier, while the Hyundai Groups U.S. sales rose 0.1 percent.
Chrysler Motors U.S. sales totaled 159,799 in September. Chrysler said that was down 5.4 percent from a year earlier.
Ford expected the drop
Ford has been expecting the decline in its core sales, and executives noted success in September with new offerings such as the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers.
Ford sales analyst George Pipas described the total industry sales performance as par in September, and I don't think we were quite up to par.
Ford Motor said U.S. sales to retail customers fell 15 percent in September, while sales to daily rental fleets dropped 62 percent. Ford Motors sales data include the Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo brands.
Pipas today said Ford Motor expects to reduce U.S. sales to daily rental car companies by more than the targeted 135,000 vehicles this year. Ford already has reduced sales to these companies by 130,000 through September, he said.
Pipas said Ford will be reducing sales to daily rental companies further in 2008.
For the year to date, Ford Motors U.S. sales are down 13.3 percent to 1,971,565.
Ford said it expected overall U.S. sales for 2007 to come in at the low end of a forecast it reduced in August, with industrywide light-vehicle sales now seen as low as 16.1 million units.
That would mark the weakest year of U.S. auto sales in a decade, the automaker said.
Incentive spending restrained
Despite a market slump that has run through two consecutive quarters, the Detroit 3 have held back from offering the kinds of blowout sales incentives they relied on in recent years to clear inventory.
Industry tracking Web site Edmunds.com estimated that average incentives for the Detroit 3, including rebates and concessional financing, were $3,156 in September, down almost 6 percent from $3,354 in August.
Edmunds said that including Asian and European automakers, average incentives were down 10 percent to $2,293.
Reuters contributed to this report