Detroit Three Continuing Slide


As auto sales slump across the nation, domestic automakers are taking the brunt of the damage.

Total U.S. sales are down 11.2 percent for the year, but the drop isn't being felt proportionally by each company and brand.

All three domestics — Ford, GM and Chrysler — are also in the middle of restructuring efforts at this crucial time. Now, the Detroit Three's U.S. and global automotive rankings are suffering.

Chrysler has officially fallen to fifth place in American market share as Honda, with its smart-selling Civic, moved up to fourth. In fact, Chrysler almost fell another spot (to sixth) in August: A resurgent Nissan came within 2,000 units of overtaking it in that month's sales.

On the global front, GM has fallen about 300,000 units behind Toyota. With GM's traditionally strong-selling month of August now behind it, there seems little chance of the automaker holding the No. 1 spot internationally during its 100th anniversary year.

Back in 2004, Toyota overtook Ford in global sales. In 2007, it surpassed it in U.S. sales. Now Ford has dropped further down the pecking order, falling to fourth in global sales behind the mighty Volkswagen conglomerate.

How low can they go? It's hard to say, but Toyota has had a couple months this year when it was close to topping GM in American sales. Another year like this — GM is down 17.9% so far — and there's a real possibility Toyota could claim another trophy. Check out the rankings below.

The "Big Six" U.S. sales (in millions)

  • GM (2.11)
  • Toyota (1.65)
  • Ford (1.41)
  • Honda (1.08)
  • Chrysler (1.076)
  • Nissan (.726)

The "Big Six" Global sales (in millions)

  • Toyota (4.82)
  • GM (4.54)
  • VW (3.27)
  • Ford (3.22)
  • Hyundai (2.19)
  • Honda (2.02)
By Colin Bird | September 8, 2008 | Comments (16)
Tags: In The News



GM and Ford dont compete in Japan which is one the largest auto markets. Who is surprised that they are dropping rank in global sales? Before it didnt matter because they were so far ahead in NA but now the Japanese Big 3 are racking up huge sales here and that puts in them in great position globally. The Japanese market isnt doing well but luckily for the Japanese big 3 foreign automakers have little presence there.

Colin B.


Washington and Tokyo setup a voluntary export restraint (VER) on Japanese automobiles: set at around 1.6 million cars a year. This only recently ended. There's also a 25% tariff on foreign made pickup trucks. That's why Japanese auto companies setup some many factories here in the US, because they had to.

US automakers can set up factories in Japan and build cars that Japanese want - just like the Japanese do for us. The only one who got close to building a factory was GM, but opted out of doing so. They also thought about marketing Saturn there. Also, technically Ford controls/owns Mazda and GM aggressively sought to control Subaru and Suzuki, up until recently.

The fact is US corporate executives read-the-tea leaves and decided spending exurbanite sums of money to be competitive in the Japanese market wasn't worth it.

Their market is dwindling and comparative to the size of their country, they drive far fewer cars than Americans per capita. The young think driving is uncool and many can't afford to.

Why America is falling in the ranks has little to do with the Japanese market. Europeans aren't competitive there either.


These rankings just prove that it's all about product. Give the people what they want at a good price and they will but it. Why GM, Ford and Chrysler still have not relized this is the real tradgedy of the American car makers. It's not because American workers, as Toyota, BMW, Mecedes and Honda all make great world class vehicles here in the States. I am sure GM will sadly continue to fall on this list.


Do I feel sorry for the Big 3? No, but I do for the Big 3 auto workers. The car market has spoken and it indicates car buyers are not happy with what the Big 3 has to offer. Instead, buyers are attacted to reliable cars like the Civic, Corolla, Sentra, Camry, Accord, Altima, Elantra, RAV-4, Sonata, Rabbit, etc. GM, Ford, and Chrysler need to get off their butts, and stop selling crap like Hummer, Excursion, Neon, Colbalt, Explorer, Sebring, etc.


Wow! If I had made those comments I'd be accused of "bashing" the big 3. (Keith) The american public is speaking for me.



They stopped selling the Neon. XD


good for VW.


I can imagine that in a few years the Big Six US sales list would like this:


^ Wow, what just happened to the "Big 3" lol

Vw is doing great, but Ford selling Land Rover, Jaguar, and Aston Martin is what dropped them below Vw in worldwide sales.



Cj in a few years it will be

Chrysler will be no more!


anyone who thinks GM is going to drop below VW or anyone else on the list is delusional. GM's sales worldwide are close to their all time high. The problem is that Toyota has made big gains in the largets market (US) at the same time that GM has lost share here. Toyota is gaining more than GM and that will help them overtake GM. You are pretty stupid if you think a company that sells 9m vehicles a year is not delivering products that customer want. I guess thats why GM is number 1 in the US and China and does better than the Japanese in Europe. Americans are quick to comment but slow to do any research. The Big 3 will continue to slide as long as the truck/SUV market is contracting and until their next generation of smaller products hits the streets. BTW, Toyota's sales are down in the US but they are gaining share because they arent doing as bad as the Big 3. Chrysler was ruined by a German company so I dont see how their situation has anything to do with American incompetence. They were in much better position before the takeover. The geniuses in Germany decided it would be smart for Chrysler to stop making small cars and to launch 3 or 4 small SUVs instead.


"You are pretty stupid if you think a company that sells 9m vehicles a year is not delivering products that customer want".

Right on Sheth, many of those delivered products you speak about make such fine rental cars. Avis has a whole fleet of GM cars to prove that. Meanwhile you keep buying your GM cars and I'll buy my Honda and Toyota cars. Over time GM will kill themselves because they keep shooting themselves in the foot. As for Ford and Chrysler, well it's just a matter of time when we only see these cars in a museum.



You offered no reasoning for your position so I guess you are just another ill informed domestic car basher. Again, GM is #1 in the US and a VERY close #2 to Toyota and beats toyota in three of the four largest world markets. You dont do that by selling to rental agencies but you dont seem bright enough to grasp that simple concept. I know the facts are painful to hear when you are so biased in uninformed but they speak for themselves. Falling to #2 after 75 years at #1 doesnt qualify as a failure by any sane definition.


Sheth, we all know that GM has a very high percentage of fleet sales in the US. That's what obviously beefs up their sakes numbers vs Toyota. Here's the link:

Trenita Stokes

Hello Mr. Byrd, I am currently taking an economics course and is now working on a paper discussing the The Big Three Automotive Industry. I have read various blogs that you have written concerning my topic. I would like to speak with you hoping you can provide clarity on a few concerns I have.

Thank you

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