General Motors Corp. fell short in its bid to increase U.S. market share for a third straight year as the world’s largest automaker, along with Ford Motor Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group, saw sales decline in 2003.
At the same time, some foreign automakers posted record results for the year, including Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and BMW Group. A variety of new vehicles helped several foreign brands expand their stake in the U.S. market in 2003, but analysts say an upcoming product offensive by Detroit’s Big Three could make such gains more difficult this year.
For the year, GM sales were down 2.4 percent, though it set an industry sales record for trucks. In an interview Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, GM chairman Rick Wagoner said the industry as a whole rebounded well from sluggish sales in the first half of 2003.
“That gives both the industry and us a good base to run into this year,” Wagoner said. “What I don’t want to do is what we did last year, which, I hate to say, was kind of fall asleep in the first quarter and you get yourself in a big hole.”
Toyota’s American arm said its 2003 sales rose 6.3 percent to more than 1.8 million vehicles — the company’s best performance in its 46-year history. For the sixth time in the past seven years, Toyota’s Camry was America’s best-selling vehicle.
American Honda’s sales, including the luxury Acura division, rose 8.2 percent in 2003 on record sales.
For the year, Ford’s sales were down 4.6 percent from a year ago.
Ford hopes to attract more car buyers with several new vehicles scheduled for showrooms this year, including a new version of the Mustang. Its revamped F-150 pickup, introduced in September, continues to post strong sales and on Sunday was named North American Truck of the Year by reporters at the North American International Auto Show.
Chrysler’s 2003 U.S. sales fell 3.5 percent from a year ago.