All US sales plummet in March UPDATE Automakers reported drastically lower sales number for February compared with last year, with General Motors Corp. reporting a drop of nearly 53 percent and Ford Motor Co. falling 48 percent.
Ford projected the U.S. annual sales rate may be below 10 million units for the first half of the year.
Ford car sales dropped 40.8 percent and car-based crossovers were down 35.0 percent. Trucks and SUVs fared far worse, off 54.0 percent and 71.4 percent, respectively.
GM blamed a 75 percent reduction in fleet sales for its February sales drop of 52.9 percent compared with a year ago. The breakout: car sales were half of what they were a year ago while truck sales fell 55.1 percent.
Chrysler LLC, which has seen declines of more the 50 percent the last two months saw its February sales drop 44 percent compared to a year ago.
A further sign of the dire times, Toyota Motor Corp. reported its February sales were down 39.8 percent. The Toyota brand fell 40.0 percent with trucks dragging down the figure the most. The luxury Lexus division was off by 38.4 percent from the year-ago month.
Honda Motor Co. saw a 38 percent decline in its sales, with cars down 34.8 percent and trucks off 41.7 percent. By brand, Honda vehicles were down 37.5 percent and Acura, the luxury division, was down 41.5 percent.
"We hope, as spring beckons and the economy strengthens, sales will begin their upswing," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of sales for American Honda Motor Co.
Nissan did not fare much better. Its decline: 37.1 percent with Nissan-badged cars and trucks down by the same percentage and Infiniti's down 36.8 percent. It was Nissan trucks that took the big hit with sales down 51.2 percent. 04/01/09 Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales fell nearly 41 percent in March, as low consumer confidence and job uncertainty continued to keep buyers away from showrooms. The Dearborn-based automaker said Wednesday it sold 131,102 cars and light trucks last month, compared with 221,642 in March 2008.
Ford's March sales did improve 32 percent from February, when the automaker sold 99,060 vehicles and the U.S. sales overall hit their lowest point in more than 27 years.
Meanwhile, Honda Motor Co. said its sales dropped 36 percent. Other automakers were slated to release their results later Wednesday.
Sales are generally better in March as warmer temperatures help drive people to showrooms, but analysts expect to see little improvement from February industrywide. That's despite a record level of incentive spending by automakers last month, according to Edmunds.com.
The average incentive on vehicles sold last month was $3,169, up 30 percent from a year earlier, the car buying Web site said. General Motors Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. spent more on incentives than they ever have, while Ford said its incentive spending was the same as a year ago.
In a further effort to boost sales, Ford announced its "Advantage Program" Monday. It will pay customers' monthly payments — up to $700 — for a year if they lose their jobs.
The automaker said its car and crossover segment is doing well, with 61 percent of sales coming in that segment.
"People are still moving to the car and crossover segment, which we view is right in our sweet spot this year," said George Pipas, Ford's top sales analyst.