American car companies hoped the day would never come. Data from October is expected to show the market shares of Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC) for US vehicle sales is expected to be over 30%.
GM’s share is only expected to be 21%, so it may lose first place in its home market to Toyota for the first time, ever.
While the auto sales environment may not get much worse, American car companies may not have the capital for product development, marketing, and auto financing to allow them to get share back when conditions improve. Toyota and Honda have balance sheets and cost structures which will allow them to get though the crisis without ruining their ability to compete in future years.
October sales figures may be so bad that the race for market share may be secondary to simply surviving through the downturn. Car industry expert Edmunds expects total units sold to drop 29% to 872,000 vehicles. The would be the lowest number for a single month since January 1992.
If the rate of 900,000 new vehicles a month becomes a regular occurrence, the odds that Ford (F) and GM (GM) make it through next year as independent companies are nil.
Edmunds forecasts that the average year-over-year drop for US automakers in October will be 40% with GM dropping the most–42.9%.
Douglas A. McIntyre