The Truth About Cars » March 2012 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:00:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » March 2012 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Europe In March 2012: Car-nage http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/europe-in-march-2012-car-nage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/europe-in-march-2012-car-nage/#comments Tue, 17 Apr 2012 14:06:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=440355

European car sales are getting it on the chin. Sale in the EU were down the sixth consecutive month, with a decline of 7.0 percent compared to March last year, ACEA says. March is prime selling season in Europe, and customers refuse to buy. March registrations have not been at this level since 1998. January to March, car sales in Europe are down 7.7 percent.

March March % Chg
’12 ’11 12/11
AUSTRIA 37,933 35,869 +5.8
BELGIUM 59,915 63,533 -5.7
BULGARIA 1,483 1,589 -6.6
CYPRUS 1,000 1,539 -35.0
CZECH REPUBLIC 17,064 17,501 -2.5
DENMARK 12,386 16,796 -26.3
ESTONIA 1,565 1,218 +28.5
FINLAND 22,924 12,585 +82.2
FRANCE 197,774 257,533 -23.2
GERMANY 339,123 327,921 +3.4
GREECE 4,901 8,531 -42.6
HUNGARY 4,768 4,457 +7.0
IRELAND 13,100 14,396 -9.0
ITALY 138,137 188,495 -26.7
LATVIA 879 873 +0.7
LITHUANIA 1,003 1,096 -8.5
LUXEMBURG 5,319 5,660 -6.0
NETHERLANDS 52,549 56,601 -7.2
POLAND 29,630 27,289 +8.6
PORTUGAL 9,622 18,930 -49.2
ROMANIA 4,902 3,793 +29.2
SLOVAKIA 6,427 6,480 -0.8
SLOVENIA 5,186 5,909 -12.2
SPAIN 84,427 88,397 -4.5
SWEDEN 28,555 29,527 -3.3
UNITED KINGDOM 372,835 366,101 +1.8
EUROPEAN UNION (EU27)* 1,453,407 1,562,619 -7.0

The numbers would be much worse if volume markets Germany (+3.4 percent) and UK (+1.8 percent) would not have provided some ups in a down market.

The other volume markets, Italy (-26.7 percent) and France (-23.2 percent) look horrendous.

March EU
    %Share Units Units % Chg
’12 ’11 ’12 ’11 12/11
ALL BRANDS 1,453,407 1,562,619 -7.0
VW Group 23.4 21.5 340,164 335,647 +1.3
VOLKSWAGEN 12.2 11.0 177,505 172,623 +2.8
AUDI 5.6 4.8 80,907 75,544 +7.1
SEAT 2.1 2.3 30,118 35,799 -15.9
SKODA 3.5 3.3 51,331 51,441 -0.2
Others 0.0 0.0 303 240 +26.3
PSA Group 11.1 12.9 161,938 200,845 -19.4
PEUGEOT 6.0 6.9 87,166 107,568 -19.0
CITROEN 5.1 6.0 74,772 93,277 -19.8
RENAULT Group 7.6 8.9 110,757 139,516 -20.6
RENAULT 6.3 7.3 91,344 113,880 -19.8
DACIA 1.3 1.6 19,413 25,636 -24.3
FORD 8.8 8.9 128,580 139,337 -7.7
GM Group 8.8 9.1 127,205 141,963 -10.4
OPEL/VAUXHALL 7.5 7.9 108,844 122,981 -11.5
CHEVROLET 1.3 1.2 18,336 18,949 -3.2
GM (US) 0.0 0.0 25 33 -24.2
FIAT Group 5.5 6.9 79,742 107,955 -26.1
FIAT 4.0 5.1 57,514 79,103 -27.3
LANCIA/CHRYSLER 0.6 0.7 9,157 10,565 -13.3
ALFA ROMEO 0.7 1.0 9,862 15,802 -37.6
JEEP 0.2 0.1 2,648 1,713 +54.6
Others 0.0 0.0 561 772 -27.3
BMW Group 6.2 5.6 90,501 87,807 +3.1
BMW 4.9 4.3 71,542 67,926 +5.3
MINI 1.3 1.3 18,959 19,881 -4.6
DAIMLER 4.9 4.4 71,696 68,727 +4.3
MERCEDES 4.4 3.9 63,787 60,184 +6.0
SMART 0.5 0.5 7,909 8,543 -7.4
TOYOTA Group 4.7 4.5 67,930 69,937 -2.9
TOYOTA 4.4 4.2 64,425 66,085 -2.5
LEXUS 0.2 0.2 3,505 3,852 -9.0
NISSAN 4.2 3.7 60,945 58,458 +4.3
HYUNDAI 3.3 2.7 48,437 42,757 +13.3
KIA 2.4 1.9 34,757 29,449 +18.0
VOLVO 1.7 1.7 24,344 27,278 -10.8
SUZUKI 1.3 1.3 18,938 20,941 -9.6
JAGUAR LAND ROVER Group 1.4 1.1 20,734 16,605 +24.9
LAND ROVER 1.1 0.8 16,570 12,702 +30.4
JAGUAR 0.3 0.2 4,164 3,903 +6.7
MAZDA 1.4 1.3 20,251 20,661 -2.0
HONDA 1.3 1.6 18,864 24,712 -23.7
MITSUBISHI 0.6 0.8 8,897 12,852 -30.8
OTHER 1.3 1.1 18,727 17,172 +9.1

On the manufacturer front, FIAT loses 26.1 percent, PSA 19.4 percent, and Renault 20.6 percent. All the while in Germany, Volkswagen adds 1.3 percent, BMW increases EU sales by 3.1 percent, Daimler by 4.3 percent.

No such luck at GM (- 10.4 percent) and Ford (-7.7 percent.)

Data can be downloaded  here as PDF and here as Excel document.

 

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China In March 2012: Up A Tad http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/china-in-march-2012-up-a-tad/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/china-in-march-2012-up-a-tad/#comments Wed, 11 Apr 2012 13:48:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=439341 China’s March numbers are in and they are – ok. The first quarter is down a little, March is up a little. People who were hoping for a return of unbridled growth are just as disappointed as those who had wished the pox of a monster crash on China.

Total auto sales were up 1.02 percent to 1,838,600 units, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reported today. Sales of passenger vehicles were up 4.54 percent to 1.4 million. Sales of commercial vehicles, down 8.80 percent to 438,600 units, still give cause for concern: Sales of commercial vehicles indicate the direction of commerce in general.

The first quarter is still negative. 4.79 million vehicles were sold January through March, 3.4 percent less than in Q1 2011. Sales of 3.77 million passenger cars in Q1 are 1.3 percent below the first quarter of the prior year.

Our patent pending sales oracle, GM China, is still overshooting the market. This reflects a general trend: Smaller cars in China are having trouble selling, whereas bigger bore cars, the mainstay of joint ventures, still enjoy brisk sales. The CAAM again reported a drop in the sub 1.6 liter segment, and a further reduction of the market share of indigenous brands.

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The Other March 2012 Sales Numbers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/the-other-march-2012-sales-numbers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/the-other-march-2012-sales-numbers/#comments Thu, 05 Apr 2012 18:34:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=438628

(We’re big fans of Timothy Cain here at TTAC, and now the independent sales analyst par excellence is on board with us. Welcome!)

It’s one thing to point out that Fiat 500 sales jumped 642% in March in an attempt to display knowledge. It’s another thing to recognize, with great wisdom and awareness, that such a year-over-year comparison is all but invalid given the fact that Fiat only began selling the 500 in March of last year.

Surely a business growth consultant would advise against an automotive sales statistician from acknowledging the fact that statistics are deceitful. But they are, not unlike unknown Triple A call-ups who manage to shine in the absence of a star first baseman but fade in late August. Statistics create expectations, lead you on, and then obliterate initial findings upon deeper analysis.

One way of avoiding the pain is to avoid history lessons, but by doing so, statistics simply become numbers. Another option requires throwing caution to the wind by contrasting sales figures willy-nilly. Example: “Toyota sold 2223 CT hybrids in March but only 891 Prius Plug-Ins.”

Or, you can simply get your fingernails dirty by digging around for some truth, or at the very least, truthiness.

There’s more to the March 2012 sales report than GM saying, “Chevrolet and GMC Drive GM’s March Sales Up 12 Percent”, “CR-V Sets All-Time Monthly Record”, “Kia Motors America Announced All-Time Sales Record For March”, or “Ford Motor Company Posts Strongest U.S. March Sales In Five Years”. This isn’t a call for automakers to release negative PR headlines. Nevertheless, a cursory glance at the promo material is as unrevealing in the automotive sales world as it is in politics, Syrian conflicts, and the aftermath of Texas tornadoes.

The headlines restrict you from hearing that Buick and Cadillac were down 16% and 13%, respectively. The headlines don’t mention that the CR-V was booming while Honda’s traditional number one seller, the Accord, dropped 18% and ranked eighth in car volume.

Kia sold enough Optimas to make it the 23rd-best-selling vehicle in America in March, but last March’s top-selling Kia and 2011’s 24th-best-selling vehicle, the Sorento, became the third-best-selling Kia as sales dropped 7%.

Nearly a quarter of the extra Fords sold in March were F-Series pickups, but the Fiesta was down 34%. Overall Ford sales, up 5% in March, increased at a far slower pace than the overall market. And wasn’t this reliance on trucks instead of small cars considered a bad strategy when gas prices in Chicago weren’t $4.20/gallon?

Lightly-veiled information doesn’t have to shade negative storylines, of course. Not since December 2010 had Lexus sold more than 500 LX SUVs, but 666 were sold in March. (Doesn’t the number 666 turn it back into a negative storyline?)

Mercedes-Benz SLK sales climbed 179% to 567 in March, nine better than what Suzuki managed with its midsize Kizashi sedan. A 2-seat German roadster out-selling a Japanese midsize sedan means something, though it may speak more to Suzuki’s failures than the SLK’s successes.

It accounted for just 1.3% of all Chevrolet sales and 1% of all GM sales, but March was the Chevrolet Volt’s best month yet, 50% better than next-best December 2011. And Chevrolet could also teach a lesson on fleet success, as Equinox resale value is protected by the fleet-oriented Captiva Sport. The Captiva Sport sold in greater numbers than the Volkswagen Tiguan in March, though quite clearly to a different type of buyer.

The Infiniti JX’s first month on sale was marred by a disappointing month elsewhere in the Infiniti range. After sales rose 1% in February, every Infiniti model reported declining sales in March.

The truck-based jumbo SUV category – Armada, Expedition, Sequoia, Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon, Yukon XL – was down 11% in March even as the trucks from which they originate combined for an 11% increase. Besides which, more than 5000 extra copies of the third-best-selling Ram pickup were sold this March.

At the lower-priced end of the market, Nissan sold more Jukes than at any other point in its 18-month history, and this after four consecutive months of year-over-year drops.

One would say Mini’s improving numbers were skewed by the addition of the Coupe and Roadster, but Mini’s numbers didn’t improve in March. Sales of the regular Cooper and Cooper S fell 7%, the Convertible slid 8%, the Clubman plunged 36%, and Countryman sales were down 9% . Mini sold 336 Coupes and 144 Roadsters, not nearly enough to cover the gaps left by the core models.

Back at Fiat, 500 sales were strong, right? Better than ever. But it’s no wonder Fiat is keen to bring a couple other Fiats to Canada and perhaps not to the U.S. In this best-ever month for the 500, sales were only three times stronger than in Canada where the market is 1/9th the size.

Finally, a thought for wagon aficionados who want more import estates but blind their eyes to the fact that their E39 540i is the only one they’ve ever seen. The Acura TSX Wagon accounted for just 9.5% of all TSX sales in March and just 3.1% of all Acura sales. It was off last year’s pace with a 13% decline. TSX Wagon sales are down 7% this year even as sales of the TSX sedan are up 23%.

Sorry, but the numbers, though sometimes deceitful, don’t outright lie. And truths like this prevent North Americans from seeing the Audi A6 Avant, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class wagon, and even the Volvo V70.

Independent analyst Timothy Cain is the founder and editor of GoodCarBadCar.net

 

 

Independent analyst Timothy Cain is the founder and editor of GoodCarBadCar.net

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Grade The Analysts: The Bankers Have It http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/grade-the-analysts-the-bankers-have-it/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/grade-the-analysts-the-bankers-have-it/#comments Wed, 04 Apr 2012 13:47:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=438139

March was a great month for the auto industry, and an analyst’s Waterloo. The real-time data equipped heavy-weights of Edmunds, TrueCar and Kelley were solidly trounced by bankers with a better feel, better sources, or simply better luck. The podium of March’s “Grade The Analysts” is populated by brokers and bankers, the professional auto oracles have been degraded to also-runs.

Rank Analyst  GM Ford  Chrysler  SAAR SAAR Diff OEM Diff Overall
1 Peter Nesvold (Jefferies) 19.0% 4.1% 35.0% 14.4 0.0% 8.9% 8.9%
2 Emmanuel Rosner (CLSA) 13.0% 7.9% 29.0% 14.5 0.7% 8.9% 9.6%
3 Brian Johnson (Barclays Capital) 7.6% 9.0% 37.0% 14.5 0.7% 11.4% 12.1%
4 Jessica Caldwell (Edmunds.com) 21.0% 4.8% 35.0% 14.9 3.5% 10.2% 13.7%
5 Jesse Toprak (TrueCar.com) 21.0% 1.4% 32.0% 14.5 0.7% 14.6% 15.3%
6 Alec Gutierrez (Kelley Blue Book) 24.0% 6.0% 35.0% 14.6 1.4% 14.0% 15.4%
7 Chris Ceraso (Credit Suisse) 19.0% 7.9% 27.0% 14.4 0.0% 16.9% 16.9%
8 Rod Lache (Deutsche Bank) 21.0% 3.6% 27.0% 14.4 0.0% 17.4% 17.4%
9 Joseph Spak (RBC) 18.0% 6.2% 21.0% 14.4 0.0% 20.2% 20.2%
10 Patrick Archambault (Goldman Sachs) 25.0% 3.9% 29.0% 14.6 1.4% 19.1% 20.5%
11 Itay Michaeli (Citigroup) NA NA NA 14.4 0.0% 300.0% 300.0%
12 Alan Baum (Baum & Associates) NA NA NA 14.4 0.0% 300.0% 300.0%
13 Matthew Stover (Guggenheim) NA NA NA 14.5 0.7% 300.0% 300.7%
14 Adam Jonas (Morgan Stanley) NA NA NA 14.5 0.7% 300.0% 300.7%
15 George Magliano (IHS Automotive) NA NA NA 14.5 0.7% 300.0% 300.7%
16 Jeff Schuster (LMC Automotive) NA NA NA 14.1 2.1% 300.0% 302.1%
Average 19.0% 5.5% 31.0% 14.5
Actual 12.0% 5.0% 34.0% 14.4

Peter Nesvold of Jefferies deservedly is spraying expensive champagne from his top position at the automotive analysts polled by Bloomberg. Nesvold called GM’s 19 percent on the dot, he was within a whisker’s width of Ford and Chrysler, he nailed the SAAR. Emmanuel Rosner in number 2 and Brian Johnson on three were less precise, but their guesses still were good enough to shame the nuclear-tipped crowd.

The real-time heavyweights of Edmunds, TrueCar and Kelley all aimed too high and missed. Too bad for Itay Michael  and Alan Baum. Both called March SAAR exactly, but in this game, one can only win by naming a number for each of the Detroit dudes. Jeff Schuster misses the good old days when he played with the big boys. How does it feel down there?

Better luck in April!

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Germany In March 2012: No Crash http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/germany-in-march-2012-no-crash/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/germany-in-march-2012-no-crash/#comments Tue, 03 Apr 2012 16:37:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=437885

Stories of Greek defaults and Italian austerity programs make you think that Europe as a whole is just about to implode. Not true at all. The export-oriented German economy profits from the still relatively low Euro. The good mood in Germany is reflected in the number of new cars that were registered in March. Germany’s Kraftfahrtbundesamt reports a 3.4 percent rise in March, compared to the same month of 2011.

As you can see from the graph above, 2012 new car sales in Germany shape up as a repeat of 2011. Most German makes and makers are doing fine. Volkswagen increased its sales by 9.2 percent, BMW 11.6 percent, Porsche could increase its sales a whopping 47.4 percent.

Ford lost 1.3 percent. Opel lost a painful 12.3 percent in March, while Chevrolet sales rose 32.5 percent. Opel’s share of the German market sunk to 7 percent for march and the first quarter of 2012.

Hyundai (+22.9 percent) and Kia (+35.4 percent) continue to roll up the market for Asian imports. In the first three months of the year, Hyundai sold 26,137 cars in Germany, Toyota and Lexus sold only 22,955.

47.9 percent of the 773,636 new cars sold in the first quarter run in diesel. 4,020 units were hybrids, 694  were pure EVs, 3,066 run on compressed gas.

Full statistics (in German, PDF) can be downloaded here.

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Chrylser Celebrates Best Month In Four Years. FIAT Leads The Charge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/chrylser-celebrates-best-month-in-four-years-fiat-leads-the-charge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/chrylser-celebrates-best-month-in-four-years-fiat-leads-the-charge/#comments Tue, 03 Apr 2012 13:35:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=437833

Today, record March new car sales will be announced. We will keep our eyes on the numbers throughout the day, come back for details. The so far best numbers were released by Chrysler. Chrysler reports U.S. sales of 163,381 units, a 34 percent increase compared with sales in March 2011. According to Chrysler, these are “the group’s best monthly sales in four years.”

Best performing brand in Chrysler’s stable is Fiat. At least percentage-wise. Says Chrysler:

“The FIAT brand led the charge with a 642 percent year-over-year increase, setting a monthly sales record. The brand bested its previous high established in February. The brand’s Fiat 500, with its Italian design and city-friendly functionality, was launched in the U.S. in March last year.”

Such wit!

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Japan In March 2012: New Car Sales Jump 72 Percent http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/japan-in-march-2012-new-car-sales-jump-72-percent/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/japan-in-march-2012-new-car-sales-jump-72-percent/#comments Mon, 02 Apr 2012 11:51:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=437663

New car sales in Japan rose 72 percent in March to 751,888 vehicles. Sales of registered vehicles climbed 78.2 percent to 497,959, says the Japan Automobile Dealers Association JADA. Sales of separately reported mini vehicles rose 60.5 percent to 253,929, as indicated by data of the Japan Mini Vehicles Association.

To put this amazing surge in perspective, one needs to go back a year to March 2011. On March 11, Japan was hit by the biggest post-war disaster in form of the earthquake, tsunami and resulting meltdown. Sales of regular cars dropped 37 percent in that month, those of minivehicles sunk 31.6 percent. The resulting base effect is boosted even more by green car subsidies that had lifted Japanese car sales by 35 percent in the first two month of the year.

Sales by Manufacturer, March 2012, Japan, Registered Vehicles

Manufacturer Mar’12 Mar’11 YoY YTD’12 YTD’11 Change
Daihatsu 374 295 26.8% 860 850 1.2%
Hino 6,972 5,108 36.5% 12,423 9,749 27.4%
Honda 67,267 43,329 55.2% 161,976 105,516 53.5%
Isuzu 10,295 6,012 71.2% 18,396 11,321 62.5%
Lexus 5,437 4,417 23.1% 12,149 10,508 15.6%
Mazda 24,839 15,320 62.1% 51,816 39,920 29.8%
Mitsubishi 9,832 6,734 46.0% 20,236 14,743 37.3%
Mitsubishi Fuso 5,139 3,272 57.1% 9,785 6,535 49.7%
Nissan 81,145 45,700 77.6% 176,474 119,134 48.1%
Subaru 15,670 7,574 106.9% 29,193 19,871 46.9%
Suzuki 12,055 8,512 41.6% 26,039 22,564 15.4%
Toyota 225,921 110,667 104.1% 509,431 310,393 64.1%
UD Trucks 1,241 947 31.0% 2,487 1,964 26.6%
Other 31,772 21,502 47.8% 63,174 46,109 37.0%
Total 497,959 279,389 78.2% 1,094,439 719,177 52.2%

(Regular vehicles only. By manufacturer data of mini vehicles not yet available.)

So far, total sales of all vehicles are up 47.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012. A total of  1,687,445 vehicles wre sold January through March, 2012, compared to  1,144,384 in the same period of 2011. Expect this trend to accelerate in the next months that compare with post-tsunami months on 2011. In the market share department (regular vehicles,) Toyota gained 3.4 percent in the first quarter. Most other competitors are slightly negative. Mazda lost nearly a percent of share in the first quarter.

(Close your eyes when you see reports by the Associated Press. They must have been drunk when they wrote that “auto sales climbed 3 per cent in January-March from a year earlier to 3.1 million vehicles.” Pure garbage, correct data above.)

 

 

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Edmunds Sees SAARing March Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/edmunds-sees-saaring-march-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/edmunds-sees-saaring-march-sales/#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2012 17:52:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=437066

It will be a suspenseful Monday. When new car sales numbers will be announced for March, I could look like carmageddon never happened. After  J.D. Power had predicted sales of 1,372,400 units for March and Kelley Blue Book 1,425,000 units, real-time date equipped Edmunds now sees a total of 1,451,956 new cars changing hands. That would translate into a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of 14.9 million units.

Edmunds Sales Projections March 

12-Mar 11-Mar YoY
GM 249,137 206,621 20.60%
Ford 222,564 212,295 4.80%
Toyota 215,122 176,222 22.10%
Chrysler 164,226 121,730 34.90%
Honda 139,431 133,650 4.30%
Nissan 136,812 121,141 12.90%
Industry 1,451,956 1,246,059 16.50%

Edmunds says that loosening credit and a shift to more fuel-efficient small cars drives auto sales to a 16.5 percent increase over March 2011. Says Jessica Caldwell, Senior Analyst at Edmunds.com.

“After delaying purchases over the last couple of years, consumers are eager to jump into the new car market. Vehicle trade-in rates have achieved sustained highs in recent months, which suggests that consumers have decided that they’ve held on to their cars for too long. And with the average credit score for new car buyers at its lowest level since the first half of 2008, the market is clearly becoming a friendlier place for all buyers.”

Edmunds Market Share Projections March 

12-Mar 11-Mar YoY
GM 17.20% 16.60% 0.60%
Ford 15.30% 17.00% -1.70%
Toyota 14.80% 14.10% 0.70%
Chrysler 11.30% 9.80% 1.50%
Honda 9.60% 10.70% -1.10%
Nissan 9.40% 9.70% -0.30%

Edmunds sees Chrysler celebrating a one year anniversary of more than ten percent market share. Edmunds predicts Toyota  to be the top performer among the Big 3 Japanese automakers, due to healthier inventory and favorable pricing.

 

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