CHICAGO: Asian automakers dethroned Detroit as the biggest sellers in the US last year after General Motors and Chrysler succumbed to the strain of the economic crisis, industry data showed on Tuesday.
Total industry sales fell 21.2% to 10.43 million vehicles last year, according to Autodata.
That is the lowest level since the 1983 recession and drastically below the 15 million to 17 million vehicle range posted in the previous 15 years.
GM and Chrysler saw their sales suffer more than most after seeking billions of dollars in government aid and restructuring under bankruptcy protection.
While Ford managed to both stay afloat and increase its piece of the shrunken market, the Detroit Three’s overall share fell to 44.2% of their home market from 47.5% in 2008.
Asian brands captured a 47.4% share last year, up from 44.6% in 2008, Autodata said.
Toyota – which managed to hold onto the number two spot in US sales – posted a 32% sales gain last month.
It also managed to increase its share by 0.3 points to 17% of the US market, although its sales ended the year down 20.2% at 1.78 million vehicles.
Korean automakers were among the big winners of 2009, with Kia and Hyundai the only brands besides Japan’s Subaru to post both market share and net sales gains.
Hyundai’s share rose to 4.2% from 3% in 2008 as sales grew 8.3% to 435,064 while Kia’s share rose to 0.8 points to 2.9% as its sales grew 9.8% to 300,063 vehicles.
Honda managed to beat Chrysler to 4th place as its share rose 0.2 points to 11% even as 2009 sales fell 19.5% to 1.15 million vehicles.
Nissan managed to increase its share by 0.2 points to 7.4% last year, while sales fell 19.1% to 770,103 vehicles.
It was the first time they gained a bigger piece than GM, Chrysler and Ford combined, which held a 60% share as recently as 2004 and a 70% share a decade ago. – AFP
European automakers saw their piece of the pie rise to 8.4% from 7.8% in 2008. – AFP