DETROIT -- AutoNation Inc., the country's biggest seller of new cars and trucks, said its May vehicle sales dropped 15 percent to 16,347 units, reflecting a sharp drop in sales of Japanese models.
Import vehicle sales slumped 30 percent to 7,110 units last month, the company said today. The dealership holding company said sales of vehicles from Detroit automakers rose 3 percent to 5,995 units, and premium import sales edged up 1 percent to 3,242.
On Wednesday, Toyota Motor Corp. reported a 33 percent drop in May sales, largely because of inventory shortages resulting from the March earthquake in Japan. Honda Motor Co. said May sales fell 23 percent, and Nissan Motor Corp. reported a 9 percent drop.
Overall, industrywide sales of new cars, crossovers and light trucks dropped 4 percent in May, reflecting higher gasoline prices, tight vehicle supplies and economic jitters.
AutoNation, which owns and operates 247 new-vehicle franchises in 15 states, has previously warned that supply shortages will crimp sales of Japanese-brand models through the summer. The company operates 19 Toyota, 20 Honda and 23 Nissan franchises, mostly in Southern and Western states.
The retailer has shifted advertising in recent weeks to support Detroit brands until Asian supplies are replenished. Toyota and Honda have disclosed plans to resume normal production levels in Japan and North America as early as late June.
Toyota said Wednesday it had about 195,000 Toyota brand models in ground stock, down about 50,000 units from the start of May.
AutoNation said there were 24 selling days last month, compared with 26 selling days in May 2010.