Car sales winners and losers

Amy Scott Oct 3, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: It’s this thing Detroit does every month. Admit how many cars it didn’t sell. Ford, GM and all the rest reported September sales today. GM down 3 percent. But, hey, Ford . . . up almost 5 percent. Marketplace’s Amy Scott is here with the details.

AMY SCOTT: After seven-straight months of declines, Ford announced its sales rose last month by more than 4.5 percent. Daimler Chrysler’s sales fell but by far less than analysts predicted.

PETE HASTINGS: Instead of really awful, it’s just not good.

Analyst Pete Hastings with Morgan Keegan says keep in mind these figures are compared to last year when sales had fallen dramatically after a summer of employee discounts.

HASTINGS: But these days in the North American auto industry you have to take your ray of sunshine wherever you can find it.

One unexpected sunbeam for the industry came from SUV sales. Jesse Toprak with the auto information website says lower gas prices and dealer incentives even boosted sales of the largest SUVs.

JESSE TOPRAK: They were still down. But we’re sort of used to seeing large SUVs being down 20, 30 percent every month this year. They were down single digits in September. On the other hand, mid-size SUVs like the Explorers and Blazers were actually up, and large trucks recovered somewhat.

Still, Ford’s truck sales suffered last month. To turn things around, it’s declared October “Truck Month,” and plans to offer zero-percent financing on its 2006 pickups.

As GM announced its soft September sales, the company’s board was expected to discuss a possible alliance with Nissan and Renault. A decision is due mid-month.

Meanwhile, Toyota continued its winning streak. Its sales last month rose 25 percent over last year.

In New York, I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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