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Detroit 3’s piece of clunkers sales was less than U.S. market share

Detroit 3’s piece of clunkers sales was less than U.S. market share

Neil Roland
Automotive News | August 26, 2009 – 3:28 pm EST


WASHINGTON — The Detroit 3 accounted for only 38.6 percent of the 690,114 vehicles sold under the cash-for-clunkers program, far below their 45.3 percent share of the U.S. market through July, federal data show.

The figures, as of yesterday’s 8 p.m. deadline for filing transactions, suggest that foreign manufacturers got a bigger boost than domestic automakers from the $3 billion government program.

Chrysler Group did the worst of the three Detroit companies. Chrysler accounted for only 6.6 percent of all clunkers sales, far less than its 9.6 percent U.S. market share, according to Transportation Department figures released today.

General Motors Co., at 17.6 percent, ranked second in clunkers sales, behind Toyota Motor Sales at 19.4 percent. Ford Motor Co., at 14.4 percent, was third and Honda (13.0 percent) fourth, Nissan (8.7 percent) fifth, Hyundai (7.2 percent) sixth and Chrysler seventh.

The biggest winners in the clunkers program were Toyota, whose U.S. market share through July was 16.3 percent, and Hyundai, whose share was 4.3 percent.

The Detroit 3’s share of sales in the clunkers program has declined steadily since the first figures were released Aug. 5.

In releasing the figures today, the government didn’t say what percentage of the foreign manufacturers’ vehicles sold in the program were made in the United States. In previous announcements, the Transportation Department said more than half these vehicles had been produced in the United States.

“Moribund showrooms were brought back to life, and consumers bought fuel-efficient cars that will save them money and improve the environment,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today.

According to the government, the best-selling models were, in order: Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Versa, Toyota Prius, Honda Accord, Honda Fit and the front-drive Ford Escape.

Separately, said today it expects “a steep decline” in auto sales in coming weeks based on a significant decline in so-called “purchase intent” among visitors to Edmunds’ Web site. This variable measures Web activity that suggests the user is shopping seriously for a vehicle.

Purchase intent is down 50 percent from the clunkers peak and down 11 percent from the June average, according to Edmunds.

“Day by day, intent is slipping,” said Edmunds analyst David Tompkins.

In the clunkers program, the Transportation Department said today that the average fuel economy of new vehicles purchased was 24.9 mpg, a 58 percent improvement over the 15.8 mpg average for the trade-ins.

“The program raised the average fuel economy of the fleet while getting the dirtiest and most polluting vehicles off the road,” Transportation said in a statement.

About 84 percent of trade-ins were trucks, and 59 percent of new vehicles purchased were cars, the data show.

The top 10 trade-ins were, in order: four-wheel-drive Ford Explorer, two-wheel-drive Ford F-150, Jeep Grand Cherokee 4wd, Ford Explorer 2wd, Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan 2wd, Jeep Cherokee 4wd, Chevrolet Blazer 4wd, Chevrolet C1500 Pickup 2wd, Ford F150 4wd and Ford Windstar fwd van.

The states with the most deals claimed were, in order: California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois.

The program sought to boost domestic sales and improve the fuel economy of vehicles on the road by offering $3,500 or $4,500 vouchers to customers who swapped trade-ins for new, more fuel-efficient models.

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