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What the Top 6 Had to Say About March Sales

In their monthly sales releases, every automaker tries to pick—or spin—the positive. Sometimes that’s hard. But it’s also an interesting window onto the way the different organizations are seeing the market. Herewith are the summary statements from the top 6 automakers selling into the US market on their March results. The percentage change in sales reflects the gains or loses measured against March 2004.

GM (March sales -1% (adjusted for selling days), +3% unadjusted):

“We experienced a nice improvement in both sales and share in March led by full-size pickup and launch vehicle sales,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president, GM North America Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing. “We’re encouraged by the sales performance of our launch vehicles and are hopeful that sales will continue to gain momentum as consumers become more aware of them and recognize the value they represent.”

Ford (March sales, light duty vehicles -5.3% adjusted, -1.7% unadjusted):

“We’re making a concerted effort to get back in the car business,” said Earl Hesterberg, Ford group vice president, North America Marketing, Sales and Service. “The effort appears to be paying off.” Sales of trucks (except for the F-Series) declined 3% from a year ago. In addition, consumer demand continues to grow for the company’s new small and crossover sport utility vehicles.

“Higher gas prices seem to be accelerating the demand for small and crossover sport utility vehicles,” said Hesterberg. “Fortunately, we’re in a position to offer consumers several choices in these categories and more are on the way.”

Chrysler Group (March sales +4% adjusted, +8% unadjusted):

“Sales increases in cars, minivans and SUVs during March led us to achieve our sixth consecutive quarter of positive sales gains,” said Gary Dilts, Chrysler Group Senior Vice President–Sales.  “Our new product lineup helped sales this month,” said Dilts.  “The increase in fuel prices has heightened awareness of our cylinder deactivation, Multi-Displacement System (MDS) in our HEMI-powered Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles.”

Toyota (March sales : +12.3% adjusted, +16.7% unadjusted):

“Spurred by escalating oil prices, the demand for fuel-efficient vehicles has definitely stepped up,” said Jim Press, TMS executive vice president and COO. “Corolla and Scion posted formidable gains and sales of our Prius hybrid reached an all-time high.”

Honda (March sales +6.9% adjusted, +11% unadjusted):

“It’s no surprise that consumers are looking to more fuel efficient vehicles as gas prices continue to rise,” said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda. “Our entire lineup meets this demand better than any other manufacturer with three different hybrid models, more fuel efficient cars and trucks, and the highest overall fuel economy of any full-line manufacturer.”

Nissan (March sales +12.6% adjusted, 16.9% unadjusted):

Nissan didn’t offer much color commentary—they may all have been too busy high-fiving each other over breaking through the 1,000,000 vehicles sold threshold in the US market.

But of the other five, four stress fuel efficiency.

Not that the market has swerved to be solely focused on fuel efficiency. Gains in sales of light trucks, including SUVs, outpaced those of cars once again. The acknowledged trend appears moving to smaller big vehicles, though.


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