The future of some major carmakers in the United States did not look very promising just a few years ago, when the 2008-2010 automotive industry crisis hit so hard that the US government had to put together unprecedented financial bailout. A few years after substantial efforts were made to restructure the Big Three and bring them to sell more fuel-efficient vehicles so that the supply meets the demand, looking at the sales statistics for 2012 gives us some sign that the rain may finally be giving way to the rainbow.
At the end of the 1990s, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – the Big Three – represented more than 70% of total car sales in the United States. A decade later, their domination had melted to just over 50% of the market share in Uncle Sam’s country. The cause of this decline probably stems from the fact that the majority of the Big Three’s profits emanated from light trucks’ and SUV’s sales: with escalating gas prices, consumers quickly turned their attention to more fuel-efficient compact cars.
What had to happen did happen: the global financial crisis affected the automotive industry, and its American component was definitely hit the hardest. Amidst rising oil prices and consumers’ changing preferences regarding cars, Ford, GM and Chrysler had to rise up to the challenge and roll up their sleeves in order to avoid a catastrophe. Luckily for GM and Chrysler, a loan of more than $80 billion was provided by both the American and Canadian governments so that the two companies were given sufficient resources to rebuild themselves and set the table for the future.
Time has passed, and the 2012 year end statistics for the United States and the United Kingdom leave us with the impression that the Big Three made it through the storm. For instance, in the United States – which was the world’s largest automobile market until China took that spot in 2009 – as well as in the United Kingdom, the most popular auto brand last year was Ford. Even better, Ford vehicles’ sales increased by 5% in the United States and by 6% in the United Kingdom compared to 2011 figures.
The Ford conglomerate as a whole came in 2nd place in the United States’ year end auto sales, just behind another member of the Big Three – namely, GM. The Big Three’s youngest company – that is, the Chrysler Group – came in fourth, just behind the Japan-based Toyota Motor Corporation.
As to the sole Chrysler brand, it finished 13th in the 2012 year end stats for the United States, but its sales went up by almost 40% when compared with figures from 2011. This highlight may very well give hope to any small or big Chrysler dealer that the best is yet to come, and the same might also be true for any American Dodge dealer, as the Dodge division of the Chrysler Group also did very well in the United States in 2012, appearing in 8th place on the list of the brands with the most sales.
In the United Kingdom, the automotive conglomerates’ 2012 ranking is somewhat different than in the United States, with Ford still coming second, but behind the Germany-based Volkswagen Group. GM managed to come third, but the Chrysler Group as a conglomerate did not make it in the top 12. Once again, however, the Chrysler brand itself did much better than in 2011, with its yearly sales in the UK increasing by an increasing proportion of 182%!
About the author:
Alexandre Duval is a freelance blogger for towerchrysler.com. He is also currently completing his master’s degree in political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal.