DETROIT — General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. said Monday they would cut second-quarter production in the face of falling U.S. sales and waning consumer confidence, while Toyota Motor Corp. said plummeting sales of sport utility vehicles and large sedans contributed to its 3 percent drop in U.S. sales for February.
GM reported a sales decline of almost 13 percent while Ford sales slumped 7 percent in what was expected to be a difficult month for automakers as consumers reacted to a possible recession and falling home values.
GM said its sales decline was led by a 19 percent drop in sales of trucks and SUVs. Sales of Chevrolet full-sized pickups were down 29 percent for the month. GM's sales dropped 6 percent in the first two months of the year.
GM said the comparison with last February was a tough one, as retail sales hit a high mark for the year in February 2007. Still, the company responded to the downturn by cutting North American production by 5 percent in the second quarter to 1.08-million vehicles.
Toyota said its car sales fell 4 percent while its truck sales were flat for the month. Toyota saw particular weakness in its luxury Lexus division, where sales of its flagship LS 460 sedan fell 25 percent for the month. Toyota's overall sales were down 2.5 percent for the year.
Ford reported said it will cut shifts at three factories by this summer and reduce North American production by 10 percent in the second quarter to 730,000 vehicles. Ford said sales of its crossovers were brisk in February, but buyers shunned its large sedans and SUVs. Its car sales dropped 9 percent while truck sales fell 5 percent. The automaker's sales fell 5.5 percent for the first two months of what is expected to be the slowest year for U.S. auto sales in a decade.
Ford said it will cut shifts at factories in Chicago, Louisville, Ky., and Cleveland to match lower demand for its vehicles. The Chicago factory makes the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable sedans, and Taurus X crossover vehicle, while the Louisville assembly plant makes the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer sport utility vehicles. Both will go to one shift from two starting in the summer. The Cleveland plant makes engines.