Counting Cars

SAAR Falls Below 12 Million as Toyota Sales Plummet

U.S. Sales Summary Table

SAAR finishes at 11.76 million units

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales fell to an annualized rate of 11.7 million units in May, well below the 13.1 million unit rate the industry achieved over the first four months of the year.

The decline was almost entirely attributable to declines among Japanes automakers who were faced with enormous inventory shortages due to production and supply shortage resulting from the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

In the face of those shortages, Toyota daily sales dropped 27.9% in May - more than 33% on a straight volume basis. The 108,387 units sold likely represents Toyota's lowest share of monthly sales in the U.S. since at least 2004.

The company came within 961 units of being outsold by Hyundai Automotive Group's Hyundai and Kia brands, which combined for 107,426 units. That was good enough, however, to put the Korean auto makers above Honda/Acura for the first time. Toyota's resulting 10.2% market share was the company's lowest finish since December 2002.

With two fewer selling days this May (24 versus 26 a year ago), Hyundai daily sales were up 30.8% while Kia's DSR jumped 66.2% for the month, while Honda's brands were down 16.1% collectively. Honda took its lowest market share (8.6%) since June 2006.

However those numbers were largely in line with expectations. Indeed, while Toyota and Honda sales were markedly affected by inventory constraints, it was unclear whether other auto makers were able to poach those sales or whether the Japanese companies’ customers simply sat the month out.

Nissan was not impacted as much as Toyota and Honda by shortages of Japan-built vehicles, with its DSR falling just 1.5% versus year-ago.

GM's daily sales rate was up 7.2%, despite a slight year-over-year volume decline, but were decidedly below expectations, while Ford finished the month in line with Ward's earlier forecast on deliveries of 188,580 units for 7.6% rise in DSR. Chrysler's daily sales were up 18.8% for the period - also in line with expecations - putting them above Toyota in monthly sales for the first the time since February 2006.

But again, the relative change in position seems to be entirely attributable to Toyota's shortfall, as opposed to Chrysler's gains.

Collectively, the Detroit 3 auto makers DSR was up 9.7%.

European brands outperformed the rest of the market. May U.S. daily sales were up for BMW (29.7%), VW (39%), Jag/LR (23%) Audi (23.1%), Porsche (62.8%), Saab (139.7%) and Volvo (71.1%) with Mercedes/Smart still to report.

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Blogs and commentary about automotive data, industry trends, and the future of the auto industry.


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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