More Sales Declines for Big Three Automakers

U.S. car sales declined in April for the Big Three automakers as aggressive incentive programs failed to offset consumers' fears about a weak economy and a soft job market.

Ford ( F) reported a 7% decline in new cars and truck sales, while General Motors ( GM) said sales fell 9%. DaimlerChrysler's ( DCX) Chrysler Group faced the largest drop of the three, with sales slipping 10% in April. The figures were largely in line with analysts' estimates.

GM was the only one of the three to post higher truck sales: They rose 2% to 244,965. Car sales at the largest automaker fell 22% to 155,722. Ford car sales fell 7.2% to 105,889, while truck sales fell slightly, to 192,148 from 192,924. DaimlerChrysler's car sales dropped 10% to 47,995, and truck sales also fell 10%, to 139,091.

"Both GM and the industry had a solid month in April, despite some hesitation in consumer attitudes," said John Smith, group vice president of GM North America sales, service and marketing. He said the company expects to continue improving results this year.

Ford pinned its hopes on consumer perseverance. "We're encouraged by higher consumer confidence readings," said Jim O'Connor, Ford Group vice president of North America marketing, sales and service. "A more confident consumer enhances the prospect that spending will improve in the second half of the year."

GM forced the industry's hand on incentives last month by being the first to offer five-year, no-interest loans on nearly all new vehicles, as well as a cash-back bonus of up to $3,000. DaimlerChrysler and Ford followed suit.

GM shares shed 1.9% to end at $35.35, while Ford lost 3% to $9.99. DaimlerChrysler shares ended the day 1.4% lower at $31.95.

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