Asian automakers dethroned Detroit as the biggest sellers in the U.S. in 2009, industry data has shown.
Total industry sales fell 21.2% to 10.43 million vehicles in 2009, according to Autodata figures released on Sept. 5. That is the lowest level since the 1983 recession and drastically below the 15 to 17 million vehicle range posted each of the previous 15 years.
GM and Chrysler saw their sales suffer more than most, While Ford managed to both stay afloat and increase its piece of the shrunken market. The Detroit Three's overall share fell to 44.2% of their home market from 47.5% in 2008.
Asian brands captured a 47.4% share in 2009, up from 44.6% in 2008, Autodata said. It was the first time they gained a bigger piece than GM, Chrysler and Ford combined, which held a 60% share as recently as 2004 and a 70% a decade ago.
European automakers saw their piece of the pie rise to 8.4% from 7.8% in 2008.
"Emerging from the rollercoaster of 2009, the industry has gained positive momentum for a gradual recovery," said Don Esmond, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales, USA.
Toyota -- which managed to hold onto the number two spot in U.S. sales -- posted a 32% sales gain in December. It also managed to increase its share of the U.S. market by 0.3 points to 17%, although sales ended the year down 20.2% at 1.78 million vehicles. "Despite a tough market, TMS performed solidly, reaching its goal to grow market share," Esmond said.
Korean automakers were among the big winners of 2009, with Kia and Hyundai the only brands besides Japan's Subaru to post both market share and net sales gains.
Hyundai's share rose to 4.2% from 3% in 2008 as sales grew 8.3% to 435,064 while Kia's share rose 0.8 points to 2.9% as its sales grew 9.8% to 300,063 vehicles.
Honda managed to beat Chrysler to 4th place as its share rose 0.2 points to 1% even as 2009 sales fell 19.5% to 1.15 million vehicles.
Nissan managed to increase its share by 0.2 points to 7.4% in 2009, while sales fell 19.1% to 770,103 vehicles.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010