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Import auto brands again overtake Big Three

Old 12-03-2007, 02:36 PM
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Default Import auto brands again overtake Big Three



Import auto brands again overtake Big Three


Big Three automakers fall behind import brands for the second time on record in November.
By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer
December 3 2007: 6:17 PM EST


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Import auto brands overtook the traditional Big Three automakers in U.S. sales in November, only the second time on record that the domestic brands fell behind their overseas rivals.

While Ford Motor Co. posted a narrow gain in sales compared to a year ago, General Motors saw its sales fall 11 percent due primarily to a drop in fleet sales to business customers such as rental car companies. Privately-held Chrysler LLC also saw a modest decline in sales in the month.

The only previous month in which domestic brands lost out to imports was July of this year. That month domestic brands had only 48.1 percent of U.S. sales.

The final figures for November were not yet available, but the domestic brands of GM, Ford and Chrysler sold only 588,761 cars and light trucks between them, while the import brands had a preliminary sales total of 591,028 with a handful of small niche import brands yet to be heard from.

In the global auto industry, the distinction between domestics and imports is somewhat artificial. GM (Charts, Fortune 500) has one import brand, Saab, while Ford (Charts, Fortune 500) had three -- Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar, although it is looking to sell the latter two. It also has a controlling stake in Mazda. In addition, overseas automakers such as Toyota Motor (Charts) and Honda Motor (Charts) build a significant portion of the cars they sell here at U.S. assembly plants and other facilities they now operate.

But the loss of the sales lead is another sign of the financial and market share challenges faced by the U.S. automakers, all of whom have been cutting staff and closing factories in an effort to bring their capacity back in line with demand and stem ongoing losses.

The domestic brands were also hurt by lower industrywide sales of light truck models, such as a pickups and SUVs, which are still their strength, although they posted good gains in the sale of so-called "crossover" models, which are SUVs with a more car-like drive.

Overall light truck sales fell 7.4 percent, while car models saw a 5.5 percent increase, according to sales tracker Autodata. That left industrywide sales down 1.6 percent compared a year earlier, another sign of a slowing U.S. economy.
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:11 PM
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Default RE: Import auto brands again overtake Big Three

What you also have to consider is how many import brands there are in comparison to U.S. brands. This includes more than just Japan, it also includes every offering from the various countries in entire continent of Europe and Korea who is continuing to grow. No big surprise that this would eventually happen in the growing global market.
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