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Belvidere plant picture

Courtesy of Chrysler Group LLC

Chrysler Group LLC has a major manufacturing plant located in Belvidere, Ill. Chrysler had increased monthly sales in February.


Domestic motor vehicle sales fall, Ford edges ahead

by Alexa Harrison
March 02, 2010


Motor vehicles graph

Alexa Harrison/MEDILL

Ford Motor Co. edged ahead of its rival General Motors Corp. in total monthly sales for February.

Domestic vehicle sales drooped slightly in February, falling below analysts’ expectations.

Sales of cars and light duty trucks, comprising domestically produced sport utility vehicles and minivans, fell last month to an annualized rate of 7.6 million from 7.9 million in January, according to Autodata Corp.  

The New Jersey-based data provider reports the unit sales of cars and light duty trucks monthly. Motor vehicle sales are important as they can indicate consumer-spending trends.

Bloomberg LP analysts estimated an 8 million annual rate for domestic sales.

Overall, passenger car sales increased 10.4 percent sequentially from January to February, while truck sales rose 13.2 percent.

Ford Motor Co., which has a major assembly plant on Torrence Avenue on the South Side,  rose 43 percent in all light vehicle sales and 38 percent in just light-truck vehicles in February, edging ahead of General Motors Corp.

“Ford’s truck sales were the strongest and highest of any competitor, and Ford increased market share in truck sales,” said economist John Herrmann with State Street Global Markets LLC in Boston. “Evidently, Ford is really rolling out the hottest truck products.”

Herrmann said GM executives addressed their February truck sales in its sales conference call held Tuesday morning. Ford outpaced GM in truck sales for the first time since June.

“[The results] just shows you the size of the impact of severe weather in the mid-Atlantic states, Toyota’s troubles, overall declining consumer confidence and the weakness in the jobs market,” said Herrmann. “It all came together into a perfect storm.”

Honda Motor Co. and Nissan North America Inc. both gained market share at Toyota Motor Corp.’s expense, mainly because of Toyota’s recall woes in January.

However, even with its issues, Toyota improved overall sales. The automaker’s car sales fell 2.4 percent to 59,193 from almost 61,000 in January. Light truck sales increased 7 percent month-over-month.

Chrysler Group LLC, which has a manufacturing plant in Belvidere, Ill., increased combined sales of cars and light trucks by 48 percent when compared with January sales.

Herrmann said the entire motor vehicle sector should see a rebound this year.

“The recovery process is still in its early stage,” he said. “The rebound could be somewhat muted in the next couple of months.”