Auto Sales Shift into Reverse

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 3:35 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Some of the world's biggest automakers are blaming the Japanese tsunami, higher gasoline prices and jittery consumers for sending new vehicle sales into reverse.

Japanese automaker Toyota took the biggest hit, reporting a 28 percent drop in May sales compared to the same time last year.

The world's largest car company experience severe production delays and parts shortages following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Japan.

Japan-based Nissan also saw a large decline, with sales slipping 9 percent in May, while U.S. automakers General Motors and Ford reported U.S. sales fell slightly compared to this time last year.

GM sales chief Don Johnson said consumers “clearly sat on their hands” rather than go to dealerships to buy new cars.

Johnson and other industry executives pointed to rising gas prices as one reason. They also said data indicating the economic recovery may be slowing likely scared off other potential buyers.

Industry analysts said a third factor was likely the lack of incentives and other deals.

Not all car companies saw sales slow in May.

U.S. carmaker Chrysler, managed by Italy's Fiat, reported its U.S. sales increased by 10 percent in May. The strong showing helped the company repay billions in emergency loans to the U.S. and Canadian governments.

Korean automaker Hyundai and Kia also posted gains. Hyundai said its U.S. sales surged 21 percent due to demand for fuel efficient vehicles.