December Auto Sales Weak

None of the Big Three automakers manage to increase sales in 2003.
Publish date:

Updated from 02:02 p.m.



was the only one of the Big Three automakers to report higher December vehicle sales.

Sales at the Chrysler group posted their third consecutive montly gain,

Ford Motor's

(F) - Get Report

slipped for the third month in a row, and

General Motors'

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plunged after surging in November.

Chrysler group overall sales rose 2% in the month to 182,831 units, During the period, car sales fell 16% to 29,880 units, while truck sales rose 6% to 152,981.

" We gained tremendous momentum in the second half of 2003 with sales of the 2004 Chrysler Pacifica and the all-new 2004 Dodge Durango," the company said in a statement accompanying the results.

Ford ended a disappointing fourth quarter with a 4% decline in December, when it sold 292,209 vehicles. Car sales fell 16.4% to 80,763 units but truck sales rose 1.2% to 211,446 during the month.

"Although overall sales were lower, we're improving margins in North America by focusing on retail business and selling a richer product mix," Ford said. "We'll continue with that strategy in 2004."

GM's overall sales fell 9% to 447,900 units. Car sales declined 5% to 169,494 vehicles, while truck sales plunged 11% to 278,406.

The automakers also released full-year sales figures.

At Chrysler, overall sales fell 4% to 2,127,451 units. Car sales were down 13% to 456,676 vehicles. Truck sales were basically flat at 1,679,775 units, but the Dodge Ram had record sales of 449,371, a 13% gain from 2002.

Overall sales at Ford also fell by about 4% in 2003 to 3,483,719 units. Its truck division managed a gain of 0.7% to 2,314,286 units in 2003. Car sales dropped almost 12% to 1,169,433.

GM's total sales for the year slipped 2% from a year ago to 4.8 million vehicles. Truck sales were flat at almost 2.8 million units, while car sales fell 5% to just below 2 million.

December figures showed a continuation of recent sales trends.

For Chrysler, the Dodge Durango and Ram models drove gains, posting respective increases of 26% and 11% in the month

Ford's F-Series truck posted record December sales of 84,657, up 16% from a year ago. It was the fourth consecutive month to show a double-digit increase.

Recently shares of all three automakers were up. DaimlerChrysler's were up 87 cents, or 1.9%, to $47.61, while Ford's gained 30 cents, or 1.9%, to $16.38. General Motors rose 73 cents, or 1.4%, to $54.37, and have risen about 25% since the beginning of December. Ford shares have more than doubled since their 52-week low set last March.