Ford threatening to oust Toyota as US retail sales leader

Article by Eugene Conan, on March 6, 2014

Ford has narrowed the lead Toyota has as the best-selling brand among retail buyers in the United States. The Japanese carmaker saw its US market share drop to 13.5 percent in 2013, while its American rival has grown its share to 13.2 percent in the year. The figures are based on data provided to Bloomberg by IHS Automotive using Polk vehicle-registration records.

Retail registrations are considered as the best gauge of individual car buyer preferences since they exclude bulk fleet sales. The close gap between Toyota and Ford could be attributed to the growing disappointment with the Japanese brand -- no thanks to recalls, natural disasters and tougher rivalries – as well as the rising popularity of the Fusion mid-sized car and Escape SUV.

Toyota lorded over the retail market before the recession, offering top sellers like the Camry sedan and Corolla compact. However, the Camry and the Corolla are now facing stiffer competition as consumers favor Ford models like the Fusion and the Escape.

Hyundai Motor Co. and Subaru are also putting up a fight. "Before 2010, Toyota's image was bulletproof, and while it is still strong, it's not rock solid and as perfect as it was before," said Tom Libby, auto analyst for IHS Automotive.

"It now appears their march forward has been slowed." General Motors and its four brands still lead overall sales in the US. GM is followed by Ford and Toyota. [source: Bloomberg]

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