DETROIT – General Motors posted a 17 percent sales surge in October while Toyota's U.S. sales increased 9.2 percent and Ford reported an 8 percent rise compared with a year ago. DaimlerChrysler's (DCX) sales slipped 1.6 percent.
General Motors Corp. (GM), the nation's largest auto manufacturer said Wednesday its truck sales recovered from a nearly yearlong slump, and its car sales also were strong. Truck sales were boosted in part by lower fuel prices, GM said.
"That's one reason our trucks, SUVs and crossovers are gaining share," Mark LaNeve, vice president of sales, service and marketing, said in a statement.
GM outperformed Toyota Motor Corp., which sold 4.3 percent more Toyota and Lexus cars and 16.3 percent more trucks than in October of last year, according to results released Wednesday.
Toyota's performance, though, wasn't enough to unseat the Ford Motor Co. (F) as the second biggest seller of vehicles in the U.S. Ford sold a total of 214,806 vehicles in October, compared to Toyota's 189,011.
The sales improvements come on a favorable comparison with October 2005, when sales plummeted for nearly all manufacturers following an incentive-fueled summer frenzy.
Dearborn-based Ford said it sold 22.1 percent more cars last month than in the year-ago period. Even sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles inched up 0.76 percent. The figures include the Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover brands.
Sales at DaimlerChrysler AG's U.S. arm Chrysler dropped 3.2 percent, partly offset by a 12.3 percent increase at Mercedes-Benz, which recorded a record October sales figure.
Nissan Motor Co. reported a 3.9 percent increase in October sales over the same month last year, with an 8.2 percent increase in truck sales and a 0.1 percent rise in car sales for its Nissan and Infiniti brands.
Nissan, though, also had a bad month in October 2005. The company sold 75,095 vehicles last month compared to 72,279 in October of last year.
Chrysler and Ford, as well as General Motors Corp., have struggled recently to match the offerings of Asian competitors as consumer tastes shift to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Big Three have long relied on high-margin pickups and SUVs for most of their sales and are now trying to cope with huge inventories by slashing production.
Ford said Monday that it expects to further cut production in the first six months of 2007 — by 8 to 12 percent from the same period this year as it works to bring manufacturing in line with lower demand for its products. For 2006, the company has said production would be down about 9 percent compared with 2005.
Ford said Wednesday that Ford, Lincoln and Mercury inventories were estimated at 622,000 at the end of October — 107,000 units lower than a year ago and 30,000 units lower than at the end of September. The company said it estimates that three-quarters of its inventory is new 2007 models.
"We are very serious about aligning inventories with demand," Al Giombetti, sales and marketing president for Ford and Lincoln Mercury, said in a statement. "Our dealers did an outstanding job with the 2006 model sell-down program, and we took a painful but necessary action to reduce fourth-quarter production."
GM shares fell 27 cents, or 0.77 percent, to $34.65 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, while Ford shares rose 20 cents, or 2.42 percent, to $8.48. DaimlerChrysler's U.S. shares rose $1.15, or 2 percent, to $58.08.