Another month, another brush with history. Toyota Division barreled past Chevrolet in November to claim the top U.S. sales spot among brands.
Toyota has been the divisional sales leader in four months this year — May, June, July and November. That had never happened before.
Meanwhile, the Detroit 3 slipped under 50 percent share in November for the second time ever. The first time was in July, when General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC combined for 48.1 percent of the market. For the year to date, the Detroit 3 stood at 51.1 percent, down from 53.9 percent for the same period in 2006.
Imports were up in November. Vehicles produced in North America accounted for 75.8 percent of U.S. sales, down from 76.2 percent in November 2006. The share of vehicles built in Japan totaled 14.1 percent, up from 13.7 percent in November last year.
November sales totaled 1,180,269, down 1.6 percent from last year. Car sales were up 4.3 percent, but trucks took a 6.8 percent beating. January-November sales of 14,763,831 were down 2.4 percent from last year.
The overall U.S. light-vehicle market will finish the year with about 16.2 million sales, down about 1.8 percent from 16.5 million in 2006, the Automotive News Data Center estimates.
Analysts' projections of 2008 U.S. sales trail 2007 totals. The latest downgrades are from Fitch Ratings and Goldman Sachs. Last week both said they expect light-vehicle sales to fall to 15.6 million next year. Weaker credit markets and a slowing economy have been the most common reasons given for expected slowdowns in sales.