DETROIT -- General Motors U.S. market share fell below 20 percent for the first time as the impact of $4 gasoline knocked the Detroit 3 into a minority share of the U.S. market in May.
The 44.4 percent share not only was the worst-ever showing for GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC, but it was also less than 2 percentage points ahead of the Japanese brands. Led by Honda, Japanese brands gained 5.7 percentage points to finish May with a 42.5 percent share of light vehicles. The Detroit 3 lost 7.4 points.
Also in May, GMs U.S. market share fell below 20 percent for the first time since the automaker was formed in 1908. Excluding Saab, GM sold 268,892 vehicles, down 27.5 percent from May 2007, for a 19.1 percent market share.
GMs U.S. sales lead over Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. narrowed dramatically as consumers shocked by soaring fuel prices shunned light trucks for small and compact cars.
Overall May sales plunged 10.7 percent to 1.4 million units, yet Toyota still gained more than a point of market share as its volume fell 4.3 percent. Toyota finished at 18.4 percent market share, only 0.7 percentage points behind GM. In units, GMs lead over Toyota fell to 11,488 from 102,033 just a year ago.
May was the fifth month in the past year that the Detroit 3 fell below 50 percent. But Mays share loss was the deepest and sharpest yet.
And the sales swing has been dramatic. As recently as 2004, the Detroit 3 controlled 60 percent of the U.S. market.