When we look back at the recent past, the one thing that stands out in our mind is the volatility of new car sales, and how they represent a microcosm on the overall health of the global economy. 2009 saw the economic downturn impact new car sales to the point that they were the lowest they had been in three decades.
But then, 2009 was a watershed year in many respects, as not only did the bottom fall out of sales, but industry stalwarts General Motors and Chrysler were both left with no choice but to seek the protections of bankruptcy. Ford Motor Company, however, took an even more drastic and brave step – mortgaging nearly everything to ensure they’d have the cash flow and resources to survive an extended downturn.
2010 saw a slight improvement in the fortunes of nearly every automaker, domestic or foreign, but it looks like the industry has finally turned the corner in 2011.
The big winner for the year, as they’ve been for months, looks to be Chrysler. The Fiat owned company posted a whopping 37 percent increase in year over year sales for December, and a total year sales rise of 26 percent.
Compared to Chrysler’s stunning performance, Ford posted a modest 10 percent increase in December from a year ago, and is up 11 percent for the entire year. Ford has posted sales and market share gains for three consecutive years, the first time the company has done so since 1970.
General Motors posted just a small gain of 5 percent. However, they end the year up 14 percent overall, and also posted huge gains in their marketshare.
We’re still awaiting the results of most foreign automakers, and expect to have those numbers in hand soon.