March proved to be another difficult month for the auto industry, as the Detroit Three, Toyota, Honda and other manufacturers reported steep declines in U.S. auto sales.
The sales declines came despite manufacturers boosting incentive spending for the month, according to Edmunds.com. The automotive information Website reported that manufacturers spent an average of $3,169 per vehicle sold, the highest industry average on record. But instead of the usual cash rebates and low financing offers, automakers Ford and GM launched payment protection plans that promised to protect customers against job loss.
"Automakers are pulling every lever in their effort to attract buyers, as evidenced by the new programs from Ford and GM," stated Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com. “The typical incentive programs simply do not resonate in today’s economy.”
Audi sales in March totaled 6,433 units sold, down 19.4 percent from 7,986 units recorded in the year-ago period. Year-to-date sales are down 23.1 percent compared to 2008. Audi Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) sales reached 2,849 units in March.
The BMW Group reported 21,125 vehicles sold in the U.S. marketplace, a decrease of 22.9 percent from the 27,404 vehicles sold in the year-ago period. Year-to-date sales reached 51,244 vehicles, down 25.2 percent, compared to 68,529 vehicles sold in 2008.
Sales of BMW brand vehicles decreased 24.2 percent in March for a total of 17,520 vehicles. For the year-ago period, the automaker sold 23,115 vehicles.
MINI USA reported sales of 3,605 automobiles, down 15.9 percent from the 4,289 cars sold in March 2008. For the first quarter, MINI USA also reported sales of 8,513 automobiles, a decrease of 16.2 percent. In March 2008, the automaker sold 10,164 vehicles.
Chrysler LLC reported total March sales of 101,001 units, down 39 percent from the year-ago period. Total sales in the first quarter 2009 were down 46 percent compared to the year-ago period.
Total car sales reached 23,668 units, down 51 percent from the 48,339 vehicle sold in the year-ago period, Total truck sales reached 77,333 units, down 34 percent from the 118,047 sold in 2007.
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company sales totaled 125,107 in March, down 41 percent from March 2008. On a year-to-date basis, Ford, Lincoln and Mercury sales were down 43 percent compared to the first quarter 2008.
Ford sales increased 30 percent compared with February 2009, with retail sales up 34 percent and fleet sales up 22 percent.
General Motors reported sales of 156,380vehicles in March, down 45 percent from the year-ago period.
Compared to the same period last year, GM vehicles sales
were down 41 percent. Total truck sales for the automaker were down 47 percent.
Sales of GM hybrid vehicles reached 1,612 units. On a year-to-date basis, hybrid sales totaled 3,622 units. Sales for all certified used GM brands totaled 32,788 in March.
American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
Based on the daily selling rate, American Honda Motor Co. Inc. recorded March vehicle sales of 88,379, a decline of 33.7 percent compared to March 2008.
Honda Division posted March sales of 79,374, a decline of 34.2 percent compared to March 2008.The Acura Division posted sales of 9,005, a decline of 29.5 percent compared to March 2008.
Hybrid sales in March reached 3,438 units, a decrease of 6.4 percent from the 3,822 units sold during the year-ago period. Year-to-date sales decreased 20.2 percent from 7,465 to 5,877 units.
Hyundai Motor America
Hyundai Motor America posted sales of 40,721 vehicles in March, a 5 percent decline versus March 2008, but a 33 percent increase over February volume levels.
Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) reported March sales of 15,602 vehicles, a decline of 25 percent. On a year-to-date basis, the company sold 40,234 new vehicles, a decrease of 30.2 percent compared to 2008.
Separately, through the Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-Owned (MBCPO) program, MBUSA sold 6,614 vehicles in March; a 29.4 percent increase compared to March 2008 sales of 5,110 vehicles. Year-to-date sales for the MBCPO program are 19,162, a 44.6 percent increase over 2008 year-to-date sales (13,252 vehicles) during the same timeframe.
Nissan North America Inc.
Nissan North America Inc. reported sales for March of 66,634 units versus 106,921 units a year ago, a decrease of 37.7 percent. Combined Nissan and Infiniti volume for the 2008 fiscal year was 856,372 units, down 19.1 percent versus last year’s 1,059,002 units
Nissan vehicles posted sales of 59,392 units in March, a 36.2 percent decrease from the same period last year.
Infiniti sales for March were 7,242 units, down from 13,821 units a year ago.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
On a daily selling rate basis, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A. Inc. reported March sales of 132,802 vehicles, a decrease of 36.6 percent from March 2008.
The Toyota Division posted March sales of 118,563 units, a decrease of 36 percent from the same period last year. The Lexus Division reported March sales of 14,239 units, a decrease of 40.6 percent from the year-ago month.
TMS posted March sales of 13,747 hybrid vehicles. Toyota Division recorded sales of 12,515 hybrids for the month. Lexus Division reported March sales of 1,232 hybrids.
American Suzuki Motor Corp.
American Suzuki Motor Corp. recorded March sales of 7,981, down 24 percent from the 10,510 units posted in the year-ago period. Year-to-date sales totaled 15,131 units, down