U.s. May Sales: Gm Creeps 8.8%, Ford Dips 6.9%

By: Anthony Fontanelle

The General Motors Corp. announced last Friday that U.S. sales for the month of May increased by 8.8 percent on an unadjusted basis. The increase is driven by the strong demand for its new crossover vehicles and pickup trucks. Adjusted for an extra selling day in May, GM said that U.S. sales rose 4.7 percent.

The Detroit-based automaker said that its May retail sales were up 8.5 percent. On an unadjusted basis, retail sales were up 12.8 percent as compared with a year ago. GM, which was overtaken by the Toyota Motor Co. as the world's largest automaker in the first quarter of the year, announced that it would produce 1.075 million vehicles in the third quarter, up by two percent from its 2006 production. Meanwhile, the Ford Motor Co. said that its U.S. sales declined 6.9 percent in May mainly because of a planned decrease in fleet sales.

May sales reflected the continuing strength of GM's new product portfolio. The sales of the powerful vehicles could not be stopped by other automakers' lineup acting as competent . The Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra full-size pickup trucks pushed GM's large pickup segment sales up ten percent in total and 14 percent retail as compared with May 2006. "Our May results were extremely positive as we saw strong total and retail sales increases. Our significant market share gains in full-size trucks and crossovers validate the decision we made to invest in industry-leading fuel economy in these important segments," said Mark LaNeve, VP, GM North American Sales, Service and Marketing.

GM's total sales of more than 16,600 vehicles in this segment pushed monthly performance up more than 211 percent, compared with the same month last year. "We're seeing positive results, including increased residual values for our products, as a result of staying aligned and disciplined to our North American turnaround and market growth plans," LaNeve added.

Ford Motor, on the contrary, said that its U.S. sales tumbled in May. The decline is attributed to the decrease in fleet sales, and fell short of the Toyota Motor Corp. Excluding heavy trucks, Ford sold 258,391 vehicles, down 6.9 percent from 277,464 in May 2006. Adjusted for one additional sales day in this month compared with last, Ford sales fell ten percent.

Sales of passenger cars are down 18 percent to 89,126 from 108,248, while sales of light trucks were largely flat at 169,265 compared with 169,216 in 2006. The automaker said that excluding fleet sales, its retail sales decreased three percent from year-ago figures.

Some of Ford's strongest performers were its new and redesigned crossovers. Sales of the new Ford Edge totaled 12,701, crept up 39 percent from its April 2007 total, while sales of the new Lincoln MKX were 3,490, up 20 percent from April. Sales of the redesigned Ford Escape climbed up by 13 percent from the year-ago period to 18,953 and sales of the redesigned Mercury Mariner were 4,395, surged 87 percent compared with May 2006.

Sales of the Ford Five Hundred, meanwhile, decreased 53 percent to 3,889 and sales of the Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle dropped 17 percent to 13,821. Sales of the company's top selling F-Series pickup trucks dived 12 percent to 61,939.

Ford also announced that its North American production targets for the third quarter. The automaker intends to manufacture 640,000 vehicles in the quarter, down slightly from the 642,000 it built in the third quarter of the previous year. For the second quarter of this year, its production target remained at 810,000 vehicles.

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