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Asian Automakers' Sales Climb in U.S.

Chrysler Improves as GM, Ford Decline

By Sarah Karush
Associated Press
Wednesday, May 4, 2005; Page E03

DETROIT, May 3 -- Asia's top automakers Tuesday reported double-digit U.S. sales gains in April, further chipping away at the market share of leaders General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

GM and Ford both reported lower April demand as light truck sales slipped against a backdrop of higher gas prices.


Toyota's 21.3 percent higher April U.S. sales included more than triple the number of Prius gasoline-electric hybrids that it sold a year earlier. (Len Spoden For The Washington Post)

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DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, the smallest of Detroit's Big Three, improved, thanks to brisk sales of minivans and pickups.

GM said its total vehicle sales fell 7.4 percent. A 16.6 percent reduction in truck sales was offset by a 7.5 percent increase in car sales. Ford said its sales fell 1.5 percent in April -- its 11th consecutive month of year-over-year sales decreases.

Sales of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brand cars were off 1.3 percent from April 2004, while truck sales fell 2.4 percent. Ford said the decline in truck volume was due to lower sales of traditional sport-utility vehicles, while demand for crossovers and full-size pickups increased.

Sales percentages are adjusted for differences in the number of selling days. There were 27 selling days in April 2005 and 26 in April 2004.

Chrysler Group had its 13th straight month of sales gains, posting an increase of 5.2 percent. Unlike Ford and GM, truck sales were robust, up 9.1 percent over April 2004. Chrysler car sales fell 6.8 percent.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's top automaker, reported record monthly U.S. sales as overall vehicle demand rose 21.3 percent from April 2004. Car sales were up 36 percent, while truck sales rose 4.8 percent.

Toyota sold 11,345 of its gasoline-electric Prius cars last month, more than tripling the year-ago tally of 3,684.

Honda Motor Co., another leader in hybrid technology, also cited demand for fuel efficiency as a key factor in April sales. Its overall business increased 13.6 percent, including a 19.2 percent increase in trucks and a 10.2 percent increase in cars.

Nissan Motor Co. said sales rose 27 percent, including a 29.9 percent increase in cars and a 23.6 percent rise in trucks.

The Japanese automakers continue to be aided by a variety of new vehicles in segments long dominated by Detroit's Big Three, such as big pickups and SUVs.


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