Ford said today that its U.S. sales fell 26. 5 percent in August, as the struggling automaker's results — even worse than July's...
DETROIT — Ford said today that its U.S. sales fell 26.5 percent in August, as the struggling automaker’s results — even worse than July’s dismal figures — showed that the U.S. auto sales slump may not have bottomed out.
Toyota’s sales dropped 9.4 percent from August of last year, a further indication that the woes in the U.S. auto market are continuing, but Nissan — the only major automaker to show a sales gain in July — reported another improvement, with a 13.6 percent increase in August sales.
Meanwhile, General Motors reported a 20.3 percent drop in sales from a year ago but a 31 percent improvement over its July totals, mainly thanks to offering all buyers employee pricing on many models.
Ford sold 155,172 light vehicles last month, down 3.6 percent from 160,990 in July, which was the industry’s worst month for U.S. sales in 16 years.
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The automaker said its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury car sales dropped nearly 9 percent, while truck sales were off more than 32 percent last month.
Ford also doesn’t expect a sales rebound in the second half of the year. It said today that it plans to cut 50,000 more vehicles from its production plan in the second half of the year, reducing its output to 890,000 in the last six months of 2008.
“We expect the second half of 2008 will be more challenging than the first half as weak economic conditions and the consumer credit crunch continue,” Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president for marketing and sales, said in a statement.
There were some bright spots for Ford. Sales of its Focus small car were up 23 percent in August, while Escape small SUV sales rose 17 percent compared with the same month a year ago.
Toyota said its car sales were down 3.4 percent from August 2007, and trucks were down 17.6 percent. Sales of the tiny Yaris were up more than 20 percent for the month, while the Camry midsize sedan saw sales grow by 3.3 percent, the company said.
GM sold 307,285 vehicles in August, down from 385,529 in the same month last year. Sales of light trucks tumbled 24.1 percent, while car sales fell 13.9 percent.
GM officials said the employee-pricing offer during the last two weeks of the month brought customers into dealerships. Today, GM extended the offer until Sept. 30.
Employee discounts generally are 10 percent below the invoice price but vary by model.
Mark LaNeve, GM’s vice president of North American sales, said he’s not sure the industry reached the bottom of monthly U.S. sales, but he’s hoping the bottom came in June or July.
“We are very encouraged by what we saw in August. It gives us reason to think that we are starting to pull our way out of this,” he said.
Honda’s August sales dropped 7.3 percent to 146,855 vehicles, as car sales fell 4.9 percent and demand for trucks tumbled 10.3 percent.
Nissan said its car sales fell 0.8 percent but its truck sales climbed 34.8 percent on strong sales of its Frontier, Xterra and Quest models and the Infiniti EX and FX crossovers.
Despite Nissan’s gains, the industry’s numbers are an indication that the U.S. auto market was still in a funk in August.
Analysts have predicted a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for August of just over 13 million, far below the August 2007 rate of 16.2 million. They would have reduced August predictions even further had it not been for GM’s steep discounts.
U.S. sales in July fell to an annual rate of 12.5 million vehicles. Most major automakers posted double-digit declines, with Nissan the only one to report an increase.
Automakers have seen their sales tumble this year as weak consumer confidence, house value declines and high gas prices have steered many buyers away from dealer lots and pushed the ones who remain toward smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
At the same time, the tightening of credit markets and higher leasing costs have made it harder for many Americans to get financing.
The Associated Press reports unadjusted auto sales figures, calculating the percentage change in the total number of vehicles sold in one month compared with the same month a year earlier. Some automakers report percentages adjusted for sales days. There were 27 sales days in August, the same as in August 2007.