US March auto sales way down; Canada not so bad

US: Japanese makers hit almost as hard as American:

The top five manufacturers all reported narrower year-on-year declines compared with February. General Motors Corp. (GM) reported a 45% drop in sales for the month, while Chrysler LLC and Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) both posted a 39% slide. Ford Motor Co. (F) saw a 41% decline.
Annualized industry sales of cars and light trucks in the U.S. are forecast to fall below 9 million in March [emphasis added], compared with 9.12 million in February, which saw the lowest sales since 1981.
GM light-vehicle sales dropped to 155,334 from 280,713, which was better than expected. Car sales fell 41% and light trucks dropped 47%. There were 25 selling days in March, one less than a year earlier.
Toyota’s light car and truck sales fell to 132,802 from 217,730, in line with expectations. Car sales dropped 38%, while trucks fell 41%. SUV sales continued falling, down 33%.
Chrysler’s sales of light vehicles and trucks dropped to 101,001 from 166,386, topping 100,000 for the first time since September. Inventory dropped 17% from a year earlier.
Ford’s light-vehicle sales fell to 131,102 from 221,642, topping analysts’ estimates. SUVs continued their slump with a 73% decline, while sales of trucks and vans dropped 40%.
Honda Motor Co. (HMC), meanwhile, reported a 36% sales drop, to 88,379, with car sales falling 34% and trucks tumbling 40%.
To jump-start sales, U.S. auto makers offered, on average, a record $3,169 in incentives on each vehicle sold in March, said car-shopping Web site The figure represents a jump of $733, or 30.1%, from a year earlier and $171, or 5.7%, from February.

Canada:Japanese decline similar to Chyrsler’s, GM rebounds, no Ford figures yet (the General selling a lot of really cheap Chevy Aveos and Cobalts?):

General Motors Corp. has reclaimed its number one sales spot in Canada from Chrysler LLC as Canadians punished Chrysler for threatening to pull its manufacturing operations out of the country, an industry consultant said.
GM sold 24,867 cars and trucks in Canada last month, besting Chrysler’s 15,846, according to data from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants in Richmond Hill, Ont. Ford Motor Co. grabbed second spot, selling 17,021 vehicles.
In February, Chrysler bumped GM off its perch as Canada’s top-selling auto-maker, marking a historic redrawing of the country’s auto hierarchy. It was the first time since 1949 that GM has been outsold by a rival.
“We are now back to a more normal world in terms of corporate order,” Dennis DesRosiers, president of the consultancy said Wednesday. “Dealers tell me that the buying public reacted very poorly to the threat to leave Canada and this likely cost Chrysler some volume.”
In percentage terms, Chrysler Canada sales fell 23% in March over the same month in 2008, the same as declines posted by Toyota Canada and Honda Canada. GM sales fell 17.3%.
Nissan Canada said its sales fell 8.8%. Hyundai Canada, which is selling models under $10,000 at zero per cent financing, saw a 26% sales gain [emphasis added–Canadians sure do like really cheap cars].

Mark C.
Update: Ford did best of the Detroit Three in Canada, sales down 15.1%.

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