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US Sales of Full-Size SUVs Continued Decline in March

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
GM 52.2% 58.0%
Ford 28.2% 22.5%
Chrysler 9.5% 6.8%
Toyota 4.0% 4.0%
Nissan 4.0% 3.7%
Isuzu 0.5% 0.5%

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.



Think we've been here before. GM has increased its market share of a ship that's going down. Think other manufacturers should tout the fact that their share of a declining market is going down. GM will be thinking red, as in ink, not yellow.

Joe Padula

I think GM has hit on a winning stategy! 100% of a market decreasing to nought. They use buggy whip manufacturing marketing books from the 1910's. I'm sure someone still makes them, Right?
They just sold the goose that had been laying the golden egg (GMAC) and Suzuki for about 20 Billion. About a year and a half of burn... They still have the same idiots that Threw away a ten year lead in electric car technology to the Japanese, crushed the cars, and arrested some customers trying to buy their cars.
When will the board fire these jerks? Thank God I do not have any shares in the dying beast.
THe only thing that could save GM is a 5 passenger plug in Serial hybrid with a 30 mile electric only range and a 80 MPG consumption on the engine. It would need to roll out by next year.
GM has not yet figured out it is in the transportation business, not the steel bending and gas comsumption encouragement business.
Make some cars people Should want, not ones you advertised them into thinking they need. Can you imagine if they had spend their advertising budget for SUV's on electric and plug in hybrid research?

Adrian Akau

I am afraid that with their present thinking, GM seems to be like a dinosaur about to become extinct. All they have to do to survive and thrive is to understand that their customers have new thoughts on fuel economy. Fuel is becoming more expensive and, in the long run, will cost more than the vehicle itself if it is a gas guzzler.

Let us examine the cost of fuel for a truck with 20mpg traveling 100,000 miles. It will use 5,000 gallons and the associated costs will be $12,500 at $2.50/gallon and $15,000 at $3.00/gallon. Should fuel costs rise to $5.00/gallon, fuel alone would be $25,000 for 100,000 miles.

If GM cannot make fuel efficient vehicles to compete with vehicles from the rest of the world, the company is going to be in a bad way. As soon as Toyota reduces the hybrid costs and offers the public hybrid trucks, what will happen to GM? No one wants to see an American company go down but if its decisions reflect poor thinking, no one will be able to help them.

St. Theresa of Avila said "God help us for stupid nuns". I think that what she said might apply here to auto industry people.

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Hampden Wireless

While I do believe producing large SUV's is a bad idea, GM's new large SUV's are more fuel effiecent then the offerings by everyone else including Toyota .

GM is in big trouble, the still have nothing good in the small car arena except its new roadsters which are made in modest quantities .

I hope GM learns from this lesson. Make a GOOD small car and you can sell as many of them as make. Give us a hardtop version of the Solstice and the Sky and they will sell.

Randall Parker

I wonder if diesel hybrids will eventually save the full sized SUV market.

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