Counting Cars

February U.S. LV Sales UP 13.3% - FORD OUTSELLS GM, Chrysler Tops Year Ago

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UPDATED 2:45 pm

See U.S. Sales Summary table.

U.S. light vehicle sales up 13.3% over year ago

Ford beats GM in total vehicles – GM ekes out LV win

Chrysler registers first yr/yr gain in over two years

Detroit-3 up a collective 19%

Toyota sales down 8.7%

FORD OUTSELLS GM for the first time in nearly 12 years. U.S. light vehicle sales were up 13.3% in February versus year ago, but the headlines will go to total vehicle sales, in which Ford outsold GM for the first time in over a decade.

With total vehicle sales of 142,285 cars and trucks (including medium- and heavy-duty vehicles) Ford Motor Co. outsold General Motors Co. by 334 units in February – the first time the Dearborn-based automaker has outsold its cross-town rival since July and August of 1998, (during a strike at GM supplier Delphi) and just the third time since at least 1980.

Ford outsold GM in TOTAL vehicles, though GM maintained a slim lead in LIGHT vehicles according to Ward’s.

Ford's increases (up 43.5% v yago), were nonetheless in line with forecasts. Responsibility for the sales position switch, then, would seem to lie with GM whose Feb results were underwhelming at best: With Toyota Motor Corp.'s woes (down 8.7% in the midst of its biggest recall ever), and GM year-ago comparisons boosted by terrible February 2009 results, GM's 11.5% increase in vehicle sales for the month is well below expectations. GM's sales came in some 30,000 units below forecast, while other early reporters have tracked much closer to Ward's February U.S. LV sales forecast. GM is quick to point out that their core brands are up 32.2% - but the fact that all GM brands are up just 11.5% on vehicle sales of 141,951 units points to the fact that GM may not be claiming as big a share of former Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Hummer buyers as they would like.

Even allowing for the fewer brands theory, it would appear that GM has failed to capitalize on Toyota's problems. GM light vehicle sales were up just 12.2% over February 2009 – which was one of the company’s worst months in recent decades.

GM's six 2010 new-launch vehicles accounted for 1 out of 6 GM sales during the month, but GM’s Chevy brand, suffering an uncharacteristically bad month in pickup sales, was up just 1% v. like-2009. But bad pickup sales doesn't really explain why

Chevy didn't make more of a move during a month when things seemed to be stacked in GM's favor.

The company cited housing and unemployment statistics as roadblocks to a more robust recovery and said that snowstorms in the NE likely kept the overall market down as much as 5% in February, resulting in a predicted monthly SAAR of around 10.7 million – a level GM says would be in line with its overall 2010 U.S. industry forecast of 11.5 million to 12 million light vehicles.

Rounding out the Detroit 3 auto makers, Chrysler Group LLC saw its first yr/yr increase (+0.7%) in dailiy sales of light vehicles since Dec 07, registering its strongest daily sales since Aug 09.

Detroit companies overall were up 19% over February 2009.

Toyota's LV sales of 100,027 met expectation, coming in 700 units higher than forecast. Subaru (up 38.3%), VW/Audi (+32.9%) and Nissan/Infiniti (29.4%) all registered near or over 30% increases vs. like 2009.

American Honda Motor Co. Inc. sales were up 12.2% versus year-ago.

Mazda was up a tepid 4% for the month.

Europe-base auto makers increased LV sales in the U.S. 16.4% over February 2009. Volkswagen led the way with a 32.9% uptick on volume sales of 24,332 cars and light trucks.

Total light vehicle deliveries in the U.S. for the first two months of 2010 come to 1,474,779, up 9.9% over the same-period in 2009.

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John Sousanis

John Sousanis oversees WardsAuto data operations as Director of Information Content, and is Ward’sAuto sales analyst. Follow John on Twitter @CountingCars.  

Haig Stoddard

Haig Stoddard is a veteran automotive industry analyst. His current focus is North America production and longterm sales forecasting.
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