Ford Overtakes GM in U.S. Sales

It was the first time Ford had surpassed GM in monthly sales since the top U.S. automaker's sales were hit by a strike at a key supplier in 1998.

Ford Motor Co. overtook rival General Motors for the lead in U.S. sales on March 3 as Toyota faltered amid a series of mass recalls and congressional investigations into its safety standards. The company appeared to have capitalized on Toyota's woes as its February U.S. sales jumped 43% to 142,285 vehicles, overtaking GM, which sold 141,951.

Ford's market share including its Volvo unit rose 3.8 points sales to 18.2% while GM's share was down 0.1 points at 18.1%, according to Autodata.

It was the first time Ford had surpassed GM in monthly sales since the top U.S. automaker's sales were hit by a strike at a key supplier in 1998.

"The strength of our new products and Ford's leadership in quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value are resonating with customers," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service. "The good news is we have even more new products and fuel-efficient powertrains coming this year, and we expect our progress to continue."

GM, which posted an 11.5% gain from February 2009, expressed satisfaction with its performance. "We got what we thought was our fair share of Toyota sales," said Mike DiGiovanni, GM's executive director for global market and industry analysis.

But while GM welcomed the opportunity to introduce its products to new customers, the automaker attributed the bulk of its gains to the success of its restructuring plan and a solid lineup at its four "core" brands.

Sales at Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac rose 32.2% in February to 138,849 while total sales including brands being wound down rose to 141,951 vehicles in February from 127,296 a year earlier.

Chrysler's U.S. sales rose by one vehicle to 84,449 units from the depressed levels of a year earlier but were nonetheless 48% higher than the dismal results it posted in January. Its market share slipped 1.4 points to 10.8 percent, according to Autodata.

Toyota reported an 8.7% drop in February U.S. sales to 100,027 vehicles while its market share slipped 3.1 points to 12.8%, according to the research firm Autodata.

"We did see a drop in our first-time Toyota buyers," said Bob Carter, vice president of the group's Toyota division. "But we haven't seen any major outflows of Toyota buyers to other brands."

Overall industry sales rose 13% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 10.38 million units from depressed year-ago levels, according to Autodata.

Honda's share slipped 0.1 points to 10.3% even as its sales rose 12.7% to 80,671.

Nissan's share rose 1.1 points to 9% as its sales jumped 29.4% to 70,189.

Hyundai's share was unchanged at 4.4% even as sales climbed 11% to 34,004 vehicles, according to Autodata.

Overall industry sales rose 13% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 10.38 million units from depressed year-ago levels, according to Autodata.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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