Skip to comments.Demand for Japanese vehicles pushed the Big Three's market share to an all-time low in 2004
Posted on 01/05/2005 6:21:13 AM PST by wmichgrad
DETROIT (AP) The auto industry's traditional Big Three remained intact in 2004, but record demand for vehicles from Japan's top carmakers helped reduce the Detroit automakers' share of the American market to its lowest level ever.
Due largely to a robust December, sales for the year rose about 1 percent from 2003 to roughly 17 million units.
But the U.S. market share for GM, Ford and Chrysler dwindled to an unprecedented 58.7 percent in 2004, down from 60.2 percent in 2003 and 61.7 percent in 2002, according to the automotive research firm Autodata Corp.
At the same time, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and other Asian brands increased their share from 32.6 percent in 2003 to 34.6 percent last year. Three years ago Asian imports accounted for only 30 percent.
The trend is expected to continue in 2005, though most automakers said Tuesday a blistering December sales pace bodes well for the start of business this year.
December's seasonally adjusted annual sales rate was a 2004-best 18.4 million units, up from 17.4 million a year ago, Autodata said. The rate indicates what sales would be for the full year if they remained at the same pace for all 12 months.
General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., the nation's two largest automakers, reported lower U.S. sales in 2004 despite an onslaught of new vehicles, while DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group rode the success of the popular Chrysler 300C sedan to the lone gain for the Big Three.
Meanwhile, the American arms of Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. sold more cars and trucks in the United States than ever before.
"In an era where prices can't be raised, the Big Three of Asia Honda, Nissan and Toyota and the Chrysler Group ... all picked up market share," said Paul Taylor, economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association. "Exciting new product remained the key to success."
Toyota's U.S. division sold more than 2 million vehicles for the first time in its 47 years of existence as its sales grew 10 percent for the year. Business in December rose 18 percent.
Chrysler, the smallest of Detroit's Big Three, sold 146,000 more vehicles than Toyota last year. Chrysler's edge in 2003 was roughly 260,000.
"Our products have stimulated demand," said Yukitoshi Funo, president and chief executive of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. "The sales milestone is a reflection on the acceptance of products as varied as Scion, Sienna and Prius."
Honda's 30-percent rise in sales in December helped propel the automaker to its 11th consecutive year for a sales increase. With 1.4 million U.S. vehicle sales, Honda said business rose 3 percent in 2004.
Nissan North America, aided in part by full-year sales of its full-size Titan pickup and other new vehicles, said sales rose 23.7 percent for the year and 32.7 percent in December.
GM's business declined 1.4 percent in 2004, a disappointment given its industry-leading 29 vehicle introductions. Car sales were down 3.7 percent; truck sales rose less than 1 percent.
Two bright spots were Chevrolet and Cadillac, two brands that received billion-dollar infusions in recent years to increase offerings and appeal. Chevy had its best year since 1988, Cadillac its best since 1990.
Chevy also made considerable progress against Ford in the battle for America's top-selling brand, but Ford retained the distinction for the 18th consecutive year.
GM's total sales for December fell roughly 7 percent, with losses on both the car and truck sides.
"For the year as a whole, we came up a bit short," said Paul Ballew, GM's executive director of global market and industry analysis. "We certainly have been talking about that as the year played out. We did see a stronger second half. However, that couldn't fully offset the weak start we had in the first half."
No. 2 Ford's U.S. sales fell 4.9 percent for the year and 3.6 percent in December, the 10th monthly decline of 2004.
Ford said sales of its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars rose nearly 1 percent in December, helped by late-year arrivals such as the next-generation Ford Mustang and its new flagship sedan, the Ford Five Hundred.
Ford's retail car sales rose on a monthly basis for the first time since January 2003, said Ford's top sales analyst, George Pipas.
"It's just one month, but it's very encouraging to see car sales improve as we filled the pipeline with the products we introduced in October and November," Pipas said.
But truck sales fell 5 percent in December.
For the year, car sales were off 14 percent, despite Ford's much-touted "Year of the Car" promotion.
Truck sales fell slightly less than 1 percent for the year, but Ford's F-Series lineup retained its position as America's best-selling vehicle for the 23rd straight year. Truck sales include pickups, vans and sport utility vehicles.
Another high point: Ford set an industry record for full-size pickup sales in 2004, breaking its own mark of three years ago.
For the year, Chrysler's volume was up a little more than 3 percent. It was up 5 percent in December.
All percentages are adjusted and based on the daily sales rate. There were 27 selling days last month and 26 in December 2003. There also was one extra selling day for all of 2004 versus 2003.
GM closed down 41 cents to $39.89 on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday. Ford shares shed 5 cents to $14.66. DaimlerChrysler's U.S. shares ended off 26 cents to $47.42.
On the Net:
General Motors Corp.: http://www.gm.com/
Ford Motor Co.: http://www.ford.com/
DaimlerChrysler AG: http://www.daimlerchrysler.com
Toyota Motor Corp.: http://www.toyota.com
Honda Motor Co., http://www.honda.com
Nissan Motor Co.: http://www.nissanusa.com
You know what is a big part of it for me? I can not bring myself into buying an American car made by a union. I feel like I am supporting the enemy knowing that the union will use my money (wages and dues) to support every left wing socialist nut in the next election.
I wish unions would stick to union issues.
Inquiring minds would like to know.
A lot of the profits are sent to Japan though.
I would have to look into it to see how much of what goes where.
The Toyota is a 1991 Previa and has 230,000+ miles. I will not get rid of it till it hits 300,000. And then it is likely to be difficult to part with, if I do.
I know - it really tears me up. My last car was a Honda built in America in a non-union plant. About as best a compromise as I can get right now.
With unions being so political (socialist), they are really affecting sales and jobs...
The Big 3 Auto makers are the last industry left in America?
I buy Japanese for the quality AND style/design. The Union/DNC point is a good one, though: funny to see an American pick-up truck with a Bush-Cheney sticker on it, yet the union that built it endorsed Kerry-Edwards!
Except for the Japanese plants.
Is it better to buy a Japanese, German, or other foreign car built in America or is it better to buy a Ford or GM built in Canada or Mexico?
Ford is currently and intentionally on a business model of surrender market share, but improve margin.. Definately a sacreligious model of tradition in Detriot, but that honestly is their model, and so far from a profit perspective it seems to be working.
He said,"Lets make these cars better before its obvious to the brain dead that we have a problem."
I think its definately an engineering issue.
How can the Chrysler 300 be classified as an American car when it is built in Windsor, Canada?How can my Honda be a foreign car when it is wholly built in Merrisville, Ohio in the United States.
Very good question...goes back to where the main all-powerful corporate offices are located and where the masterminding comes from.
I own a used car dealership and I love to argue (in a debate sort of way) when customers come in and insist on buying "American" (or "Foreign" for that matter) that globalization of economies has seriously blurred the lines between what is and what is not a domestic vehicle.
When you factor in steel from Japan or Mexico, textiles from Asia or South America, assembly in the US, Canada or Mexico, and over 5000 moving parts that come from every corner of the globe, you're not *just* buying what you think you are buying.
Bingo. You hit the nail on the head.
I drive a 10 year old Honda Accord, bought new, with over 175,000 miles on it with no major engine or drivetrain repairs that I'll keep until it falls apart. In my long life, I've never owned (or seen anyone else own) a single American car that has the performance and reliability track record of the Accord. And my wife drives a new Toyota Sienna which replaces a Mercury Villager she had for seven years (on which we had to replace the transmission after 80,000 miles) that crapped out with a little over 110,000 miles on it.
Funny thing; we bought the Villager against our better judgment, not wanting to buy an American vehicle because of the quality problems. The Villager line was essentially a Nissan (Japanese) design that Ford made under contract. True to American form, the Villager didn't live much beyond 100,000 miles.
This is the problem for American automakers. As a customer, when I have to pay as much for a new vehicle as I used to pay for a house, it damn well better last nearly as long as a house! American cars just don't cut the mustard anymore, and haven't for a long time!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.