Ford leads as Detroit bounces back with first gain in car market share since 1988

Detroit’s ‘big three’ carmarkers – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler – all increased their market shares in 2011, helping the motor city improve its share of US car sales to 47.1 per cent, up from 45.2 per cent. Overall US car sales rose to nearly 13m, up ten per cent over 2010.

This is the first time the big three’s combined market share has risen since 1988 in what was the best year for US car sales since pre-credit crunch 2008, the precursor to a recession which led to US government bailouts for both GM and Chrysler. But in 2011 GM increased its market-leading share from 19.1 per cent last year to 19.6 per cent while Chrysler, the smallest of the three and now owned by Fiat, showed a 26 per cent upswing with the Chrysler brand itself up a staggering 83 per cent (it also owns the Dodge, Jeep and Ram trucks brands). Overall Chrysler sales improved by 1.3 per cent

Ford, the only one of the big three to avoid Chapter 11, led the pack with a 3.4 per cent market share increase. The only cloud on Ford’s immediate horizon is its declining Lincoln luxury brand which it is trying to remedy with a new custom-built New York ad agency from WPP.

Detroit was helped in 2011 by supply chain problems for Japanese carmakers Toyota and Honda because of the tsunami that hit Japan early in the year. Toyota’s US market share declined to 12.9 per cent in 2011 from 15.2 per cent in 2010 while Honda slipped to nine per cent from 10.6 per cent.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.