Ford's U.S. sales drop in November; DaimlerChrysler sales rise

Friday, December 1st 2006, 12:24 pm
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ Ford Motor Co. reported Friday that its U.S. auto sales dropped 9.7 percent compared with the same period a year ago as both truck and car sales lost ground. DaimlerChrysler AG said sales rose 4.7 percent.

Ford also lowered its North American production estimates by 2.5 percent for the current quarter and announced production goals for the first three months of 2007 that were in line with previous estimates.

Dearborn-based Ford sold 181,111 light vehicles last month. Light truck sales dropped 13 percent to 119,259, while car sales fell 2.6 percent to 61,852, reflecting lower deliveries to fleet customers.

Ford, however, said car sales to individual retail customers were up for the Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ mid-size sedans. Ford's figures include the Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover brands.

Ford lowered its production estimates for the fourth quarter of 2006, saying it plans to build 620,000 vehicles, including 240,000 cars and 380,000 trucks. That's 15,000 less than previously announced.

Ford said the change reflected the temporary suspension of Freestar minivan production at the Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada.

And it said production in the first quarter of 2007 will total 750,000 vehicles, including 240,000 cars and 510,000 trucks. That's down about 14 percent from production in the first quarter of 2006.

Ford said the goal put it on pace with earlier estimates that production in the first six months of 2007 would be 8 to 12 percent lower than the first half of 2006.

Sales at DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group rose 2.9 percent from November 2005 to 164,556, while Mercedes-Benz sold 22,079 vehicles, its third highest performance and a 21 percent jump from a year ago.

Overall, DaimlerChrysler said U.S. sales were 186,635 in the month. More detailed figures for Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz were to be released later in the day.

The auto industry as a whole may look a little better last month because November 2005 was relatively weak. Customers avoided car showrooms a year ago despite easing gas prices and deep discounts amid worries about high heating costs and other factors.

Ford shares were down 14 cents, or 1.7 percent, at $7.99 in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, while DaimlerChrysler shares lost 33 cents to $57.95.

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 that are adjusted for the number of sales days in a month.