|Passenger car sales have exceeded those of light trucks for three months running, with the gap widening. Click to enlarge.|
May 2008 US sales of light-duty trucks dropped 23.6% compared to May 2007 to 601,703 units, according to Autodata. Overall light-duty vehicle sales were down by 10.7% for the same period, while sales of passenger cars increased 2.4%.
Car sales exceeded truck sales for the third month in a row, with the gap between the two widening each of those months. In May 2008, passenger cars accounted for 56.9% of all light-duty vehicle sales; the last time the passenger car percentage was at that level (on an annual basis) was in the mid 1990s (58.8% in 1995, 56.7% in 1996).
|Percentage change in vehicle sales for Big 6 automakers in May 2008. Click to enlarge.|
Major automakers saw their truck sales take a pounding in May. GM reported a 36.9% drop in sales of its light trucks on a drop in total vehicle sales volume of 27.5%. Ford reported a 25.8% drop in its total truck sales; Ford’s SUV sales were down 44.4%, and pickup trucks and vans were down 28.6%. Overall, Ford sales were down 16%. Chrysler LLC saw its truck sales drop 24.3% on a total drop in vehicle sales of 25.4%; Chrysler was the only one of the top volume automakers to see its car sales decline more than its truck sales.
Toyota’s truck sales dropped 12.2% on a total sales decline of 4.3%; Honda’s truck sales dropped 8.8% on a total sales increase of 15.6% (up 31.9% in cars); and Nissan’s truck sales dropped 10.2% on a total sales increase of 8.4%.
Echoing GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner’s comments about a structural rather than cyclic shift in the US auto industry (earlier post), Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Jim Press said today that:
There is a new era emerging in the restructuring of the American economy. There is an unprecedented shift in the industry that is challenging, but we are determined to provide consumers what they need and want.