GM gains surprise analysts while Toyota posts rare decline
Last Update: 5:41 PM ET Sep 4, 2007
GM posted a surprisingly strong 6.1% increase in car and light truck sales in August, nudging the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales to 16.3 million, according to Autodata, easily topping Thomson Financial estimates of 15.9 million.
The data raise questions about whether the industry has reached a turning point, or whether GM's upbeat report and Ford's rosy outlook will succumb to increasingly harsh economic realities -- realities that last month knocked seemingly invincible Toyota
Ford was the first to report and gave an early glimpse of what was shaping up to be the worst stretch for the automotive industry in almost a decade, reporting a 14.4% decline, slightly worse than the 13.2% drop analysts had expected.
Ford takes biggest lumps
Truck sales fell 2.4%, with the flagship F-Series pickup showing a 9.9% decline.
In the luxury division, which is currently being shopped around, Land Rover sales surged 32.2% while Jaguar and Volvo both logged double-digit declines.
GM posted a 6.1% increase in light vehicle sales to 385,529 cars and trucks from 363,521 a year earlier. Analysts, on average, were looking for a decline of about 4%, according to Thomson Financial. Total sales, including heavy trucks, rose 5.3% to 388,168.
Still, GM cut its third-quarter production forecast by 2% to 1.05 million vehicles. For the fourth quarter, GM said it is looking to build 1 million cars and trucks.
Lexus passenger car sales rose 7.7% to 19,789 vehicles from 18,376 a year earlier. Light-truck sales rose 2% to 97,964 from 96,034 a year earlier.
Car sales increased 11.7% to 91,448 from 81,868, while truck sales fell 3.6% to 66,894 from 69,385. Honda division sales totaled 141,906 in August, up 6.7% from 132,990, a year ago. Sales at the Acura division fell 10% to 16,436