DETROIT, Oct 4 (Reuters): General Motors Corp and Ford Motor Co yesterday posted big declines in US vehicle sales in September as employee pricing discount programmes lost their allure and sales of traditional SUVs plunged on higher gasoline prices.
By contrast, Asian rivals Toyota Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co posted double-digit gains, and Toyota said its third-quarter sales were the best-ever in the United States.
And US automakers don't see sales getting any better this month after the generous summer deals based on prices charged to employees pulled fall and winter customers into the market earlier.
Japanese automakers have been relentlessly increasing their share of the US market, stealing sales from Ford and GM, which have been struggling with issues ranging from excess inventory to a shift in consumer taste away from larger sport utility vehicles.
South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co is also gaining ground on America's two largest automakers, with sales in September rising 9.1 per cent.
GM, which since June 1 has been selling 2005 model-year vehicles at the same low prices it offers to employees, saw its September sales fall 24 per cent, while Ford's dropped 20 per cent after a two-month gain, adding to the mounting financial hardships at the Big Two.
But in a bright spot for Detroit, the US-based Chrysler unit of Germany's DaimlerChrysler said September sales rose 4 per cent. Both Ford and Chrysler followed GM's lead in offering employee discounts.