DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. said Friday its U.S. vehicle sales fell 6.9 per cent last month as the auto maker continued to cut low-profit sales to rental companies, while DaimlerChrysler AG's sales rose 3.9 per ent with help from a 20 per cent jump in its Jeep brand.
But Ford said its sales to retail customers, which were 3 per cent lower than a year ago, still marked its best retail month of the year as the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers continued to make gains.
"These new crossovers are the right products at the right time," Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, said in a statement. "Consumer demand for the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX has exceeded our original expectations.''
Ford said it now expects Edge sales to reach 120,000 this year – 20 per cent higher than its original forecast.
Sales of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands, including fleet sales, totalled 258,391 last month, including 169,265 light trucks and 89,126 cars. Truck sales were essentially flat from a year ago, but car sales dropped 17.7 per cent.
Chrysler's passenger vehicle sales, which include the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, rose 4.3 per cent to 199,393, while Mercedes sales rose 0.7 per cent to 21,771. Dodge sales were up about 3 per cent.
Detailed breakdowns from DaimlerChrysler, which sold a total 221,164 vehicles in the U.S. last month, were expected later in the day.
With retail gas prices well above $3 per gallon across the nation, some analysts were expecting lower U.S. sales from May 2006. But rebates and other incentives, which the Edmunds.com auto website reported Friday were on the rise last month, may offset uncertainty about future fuel prices.
Industrywide, Toyota Motor Corp. has been gaining market share in the U.S., banking on a reputation for reliable and fuel-efficient cars. But General Motors Corp. and Ford have been working to cut fleet sales.
The Associated Press reports unadjusted figures, calculating the percentage change in the total number of vehicles sold in one month compared with the same month a year earlier. Some automakers report percentages adjusted for sales days, which last month was 26 and in May 2006 was 25.