|Changes in March sales. Click to enlarge.|
Sales of full-size SUVs dropped 28% in March from the same month the year before, from 145,918 units to 105,745. All automakers experienced the decline, although a very few models, notably the new GM Tahoe and the Ford Range Rover line-up, saw sharp increases in sales.
General Motors increased its share of the full-size SUV segment in March to 64%, up from 55% in 2005. In other words, almost 2 out of every 3 full-size SUVs sold in March 2006 were from GM.
|Changes in March sales for the different GM full-size SUVs. Tahoe is the clear winner.|
Overall, sales were not good for GM and Ford in March. GM sales dropped down 14% in March compared to year-ago levels. Total car sales were down 22%, and truck sales were down 9%. Retail sales of GM launch vehicles—such as the new full-size SUVs—were up 30% compared to February, however, and accounted for one-third of GM’s total deliveries for the month.
Ford sales were down 5% in March compared to the prior year. The Ford Explorer full-size SUV took a big hit, down 31% from 24,858 in March 2005 to 17,157 in March 2006. The Chevy Tahoe came within 577 units of displacing the Explorer as the number-one selling full-size SUV in the US in March.
|Share of Full-Size SUV Segment, 1st Quarter|
However, Ford’s F-Series full-size pickup truck gained market share. In March, F-Series sales totaled 84,168, up 5% compared with a year ago and the highest March sales since 2000.
For the first quarter, sales of full-size SUVs declined 16% from the year prior. On a year-to-date basis—i.e., for the first quarter of the year—only GM increased market share of this SUV segment. All other automakers were stable or saw a decline.
Increasing market share of an eroding segment is not a winning strategy for the long-term. Even with its increased marketshare, GM still sold 6% fewer full-size SUVs in the first quarter of 2006 than in the first quarter of 2005.