GM Joins Toyota in Missing May Vehicle Sales Estimates
By Craig Trudell – Jun 1, 2012 3:33 PM GMT+0100
General Motors Co. (GM), Toyota (7203) Motor Corp., Chrysler Group LLC and Nissan Motor Co. (7201) reported U.S. sales gains in May that trailed estimates even as automakers boosted incentive offers to draw buyers amid slow job growth.
GM deliveries last month rose 11 percent to 245,256, according to a statement. Toyota’s sales surged 87 percent to 202,973, Chrysler’s climbed 30 percent to 150,041 and Nissan’s increased 21 percent to 91,794. The results missed analysts’ estimates for gains of 15 percent by GM, 93 percent by Toyota, 40 percent by Chrysler and 29 percent by Nissan.
Industrywide light-vehicle sales may have trailed the 14.4 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate that was the average of 14 estimates. Employers in the U.S. added the fewest workers in a year and the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2 percent, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington.
“Incentives are expected to play a larger role in May than in the past few months when pent-up demand drove consumers back to the market,” Peter Nesvold, a New York-based analyst for Jefferies & Co., wrote yesterday in a research note.
Ford Motor Co., which reported a 13 percent light-vehicle sales gain that beat estimates, boosted incentives in May, Chrysler offered some buyers no monthly payments for 90 days and GM offered discounts to try to offset market-share recovery by Japanese automakers, according to Jefferies.
GM offered “substantial” increases in rebates for pickups and sport-utility vehicles, while Ford (F) boosted discounts on models such as the Fiesta and Focus cars, Escape SUV and large F-Series pickups, Nesvold wrote.
Ford deliveries last month rose to 215,699 cars and light trucks, according to a statement. Ford beat the 12 percent gain that was the average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Chrysler, ranked fourth in U.S. light-vehicle sales this year, began production in May of the Dodge Dart compact and starts shipping the car to dealers this month. Deliveries of the Caliber, which Dart replaces, fell 66 percent to 1,341.
Toyota, No. 3 in U.S. vehicle sales, still may have led the industry with its gain, which was reported in an e-mailed statement. The Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker has introduced new models such as the Camry sedan and Prius line of hybrids to recover market share lost after Japan’s March 2011 tsunami disrupted vehicle output and led to shortages through much of last year.
Honda Motor Co. (7267) deliveries probably rose 53 percent, the average of seven analysts’ estimates. The Tokyo-based automaker entered May having reported year-over-year sales declines in 10 of the last 12 months, as the tsunami and Thai floods later in 2011 sapped supply of Civic compacts, Accord sedans and CR-V SUVs.
Analysts predicted total light-vehicle deliveries in May would surge 31 percent to 1.39 million, the average of nine estimates, keeping the U.S. on pace for its best annual total since 2007. The May 2011 industry sales rate was 11.7 million, according to Autodata Corp. in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
Toyota may gain almost 1 percentage point of U.S. market share this year and retain third place behind GM and Ford, analysts estimated in January. In the first three months of this year, Toyota sold the most cars and trucks in the world.
Chrysler’s national promotion offering some buyers no monthly payments for 90 days ran during the last 10 days of May, according to the company’s website.
“The Japanese competitors are now back fully in the marketplace,” Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler and its majority owner Fiat SpA (F), told reporters on May 24. “It’s something that we have not had to deal with, effectively, over the last 12 months.”
GM, the No. 1 automaker by U.S. sales, shuffled its sales team on May 17, naming Alan Batey to the new position of vice president of U.S. sales and service. The Detroit-based automaker’s U.S. market share through April slipped 1.9 percentage points from a year earlier to 17.7 percent, according to Autodata.
Ford is adding production at some North American plants to keep up with demand and boost output by 400,000 vehicles on an annualized basis. The company boosted incentives in May to be in line with the industry, which remains “very disciplined” in its use of discounts, said Erich Merkle, the company’s sales analyst.
“We pulled back perhaps a little too much in the month of April, which is why we had a bit of a dip,” Merkle told reporters May 30 at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.
South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. (005380) and Kia Motors Corp. (000270) may have combined to sell 17 percent more vehicles than a year earlier, the average of six analysts’ estimates.
Volkswagen AG (VOW), which is on pace to exceed its target for selling more than 500,000 vehicles in the U.S. this year, may have increased combined sales of its Volkswagen and Audi brand vehicles by 33 percent in May, the average of four analysts’ estimates.