As U.S. automakers climbed deeper into debt and lost market share at an increasingly rapid pace over the last year, it appeared inevitable that Detroit’s Big three would be swept away by the tsunami of Japanese imports.
Toyota and Honda have been chipping away at domestic automakers’ market share for the past decade. Over a period of several months last year, Toyota sales in the U.S. eclipsed those posted by Ford.
June, however, marked the third consecutive month in which Ford has outsold Toyota in the U.S.
In June, Ford Motor Company posted an 11% decline in domestic sales, down to only 148,153. During the same period, Toyota reported a 34.6% decline in U.S. sales, moving only 131,654 units. With the exception of Subaru, whose U.S. sales increased by 3% last month, Ford outsold every other brand in the market.
Compared to June 2008 sales reports, the story was equally bleak for other Japanese automakers. Honda sales slumped by over 32% and Nissan’s sales were off by 23.1% over the same period last year. South Korean automaker Hyundai Motors experienced a 24% decline compared to June, 2008.
Chrysler Motor Company, which entered into Chapter 11 restructuring on April 30, suffered a dramatic 42% decline in sales versus the same period in 2008. General Motors fared only slightly better, reporting a 33.6% decline in sales compared to June, 2008 numbers.
According to Edmunds.com industry analyst, Jessica Caldwell, Toyota’s poor sales numbers are, to a large degree, the tightening economic conditions throughout west coast states where Toyota has established a strong following.
"California and the coastal areas have suffered in the economy," says Caldwell. "But Ford has also been coming out with guns blazing in recent months, promoting their products with positive messages, saying ‘we have new technology, hybrids, the new Taurus, Mustang, the Fusion sedan gets the best fuel economy of any mid-size sedan in American.”
Another reason for Ford’s resurgence may be the fact that it and other domestic automakers are outspending foreign automakers in incentives, or what industry insiders call ‘hood cash.’
According to Edmunds.com, rebates and incentives have never been higher than what domestic automakers are offering now. Although incentives industry-wide fell by $22 in June when compared to the previous month, they were still an estimated 20% above what dealers were offering during June of 2008.
In contrast, Edmunds.com estimates that combined incentives offered by Ford, Chrysler and GM during that period rose by $95 to $3,821. Hyundai followed suit by increasing their average incentive spend by an average $252 to $3,083.
European automakers, on average, reduced their incentive spends by $448 to $3,238, and Japanese manufacturers also decreased their incentive spends by an average $169 to $1,729.
The playing field is expected to level with incentives being phased out in the coming months as automakers inventories become more in line with demand.
According to Jessica Caldwell, Ford’s inventory is now down to an estimated 60-days supply which she claims is, ‘a really healthy number even in the best of times.’