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May sales: GM, Ford surprisingly strong while Honda, Toyota falter

by Andrew Ganz

Though sales figures for May were generally down significantly across the board, now-bankrupt General Motors reported its best month all year and Ford says it reached its highest market share since 2006. Despite hefty incentives, Toyota saw a nearly 40 percent drop in sales compared to the same period last year.

Last month was full of mixed news; while Ford Motor Company and GM saw fairly modest sales overall, their two major divisions - Ford and Chevrolet - both managed to outsell arch-rival Toyota for the first time in many months.

It's worth noting that the sales figures listed below are to be compared to May 2008.

The good
Toyota division beat out Chevrolet after last month's surprising slip to third place. Toyota offered large incentives last month.

Subaru sales were down 5 percent, but its Legacy sedan increased sales 53 percent despite a redesign on the horizon thanks to healthy incentives. The automaker's Forester, which has seen a 38 percent increase in sales so far this year, was off about 4 percent compared to last year.

Volkswagen's Jetta TDI models had their best month ever, with sales of 3,862 units.
Jeep's Wrangler continued to gain momentum; sales are up 11 percent this year.

Hyundai's 20 percent decrease comes after a best-ever May last year.

Overall, Ford Motor Company's sales totaled 155,954 - the highest since July 2008 and the Ford Fusion set a sales record.

Lincoln saw a sales increase - one of few expected this month - to 8,566, up 2.4 percent. That figure is a little misleading, as we're scratching our heads as to why the Town Car saw a 103.3 percent increase in sales. Mercury's Grand Marquis - also riding on Ford's vintage Panther platform - saw a modest increase of 6 percent to 3,272 vehicles.

Honda saw a small drop in Odyssey (down 2.9 percent) and Pilot sales (down 8.9 percent).

All things considered, it was a hot month for GM's brands. Trucks and crossovers "only" saw a 22 percent drop-off to 110,866, while cars were off a less-impressive, but still "not too bad" 38 percent to 81,009. Of the automaker's four "core" brands, only Cadillac saw a decrease exceeding 25 percent (39.9 percent).

Pontiac, not one of GM's "core" units, had pretty miserable sales - except for the soon-to-be-dropped G8, which saw an astounding 68.3 percent increase to 3,081 vehicles. Pontiac's mainstream G6, which sells heavily to fleets, only recorded about 1,600 more units sold.

The bad
Suzuki sales continue to tank; year-to-date sales are down more than 56 percent.

Chrysler sales were rough, though probably not as bad as sales for an automaker in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection could have been; for all three brands, sales were down 47 percent, more or less matching the 46 percent drop seen year-to-date. Overall, however, Chrysler had its best retail month all year.

It was not a good month for Toyota; every vehicle except for the Lexus RX (4.1 percent) saw a double-digit drop in sales compared to last May.

Aside from its minivan and largest SUV, Honda's sales dropped significantly, even for its least-expensive model, the Fit, which saw a 27.5 percent decline in sales.

Mazda, which recently announced a global restructuring, saw some of its worst sales in months; even the freshly-redesigned Mazda3 saw a 41.4 percent drop in sales.

GM's non-core brands had a generally lousy month, especially Saab, which saw a 63.5 percent drop in sales compared to last year. That said, Saab's now-discontinued 9-7x actually saw a 4.6 percent increase in sales to 182 units. Its cars dropped 69.6 percent to just 601 units sold.

The ugly
Acura, down 34 percent to 9,469
Audi, down 12.1 percent to 7,503
Buick, down 17.1 percent to 9,160
BMW, down 27.8 percent to 18,383
Cadillac, down 39.9 percent to 8,027
Chevrolet, down 23.7 percent to 127,510
Chrysler, down 51 percent to 15,987
Dodge, down 48 percent to 41,399
Ford, down 25.5 percent to 137,167
GMC, down 22.1 percent to 23,926
Honda, down 39.7 percent to 88,875
Hummer, down 40.6 percent to 1,094
Hyundai, down 20 percent to 36,937
Infiniti, down 38.1 percent to 6,496
Jeep, down 40 percent to 21,624
Kia, down 16.1 percent to 26,060
Lincoln, up 2.4 percent to 8,566
Lexus, down 33.9 percent to 16,922
Maserati, down 55.2 percent to 128
Mazda, down 40.1 percent to 16,718
Mercedes-Benz, down 30.5 percent to 15,134
Mercury, down 24.8 percent to 10,221
Mini, down 27 percent to 4,610
Mitsubishi, down 58.3 percent to 4,352
Nissan, down 32.5 percent to 60,993
Pontiac, down 52.3 percent to 13,329
Porsche, down 29.2 percent to 1,979
Saab, down 63.5 percent to 783
Saturn, down 55.5 percent to 8,046
Subaru, down 5 percent to 17,505
Suzuki, down 75.1 percent to 2,585
Toyota, down 39 percent to 135,661
Volvo, down 22.9 percent to 5,577
Volkswagen, down 12.4 percent to 19,568