Ford Motor Co. says its U.S. vehicle sales fell 40% in January, setting an abysmal start to 2009 for the automaker and the industry overall as sales to fleet buyers like rental car companies weighed down the results. Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. posted a 32% drop for the month but managed to outsell Ford.
Ford sold 93,060 light vehicles in January, compared with 155,832 in the same month of 2008. Toyota sold 117,287 vehicles, down from 171,849. Light vehicle sales exclude heavy trucks. Other automakers also are expected to report lower sales when they release their figures later today. The industry has reported at least a 30% decline in U.S. sales every month since October.
Chrysler sales chief Steven Landry says that U.S. industry sales could drop as much as 35% in January. After meeting with Chrysler dealers at a suburban Detroit hotel, he says the annualized sales rate for the month could drop below 10 million vehicles for the first time in more than 26 years.
According to Ward’s AutoInfoBank, the last month in which the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate dropped below 10 million was August 1982, when it hit 9.9 million as the nation was mired in a recession.