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Sales Trends

As It Turns Out, California Is Ford Country

March 01, 2000|JOHN O'DELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Conventional wisdom has it that California is a hotbed of import-car sales--and, indeed, it is the top state in the union for most import makes. But in 1999, for the fourth year in a row, the manufacturer with more sales than any other in California was neither Asian nor European.

It was Ford.

Based on the state's 1,861,898 registrations of new passenger cars and trucks, Ford Motor Co.'s domestic brands--Ford, Lincoln and Mercury--led the pack with 403,931, or 21.7% of the total.

That's 27,316 more registrations than second-place General Motors Corp. (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC Trucks, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Saturn), and 136,448 more than third-place Toyota Motor Corp. (Toyota and Lexus).

Ford cars and trucks also were the state's top-selling individual nameplate, followed by Toyota in second place and Chevrolet in third.

Nationally and around the world, GM nameplates still outsell Ford's collective brands. But a new study by market researchers at AutoPacific Inc. suggests that the folks in Dearborn, Mich., are gaining on their longtime rivals at GM.

AutoPacific's Tustin-based researchers asked 40,000 recent new-car buyers which brands they would consider for their next new car or truck. Ford scored highest, with a 35% consideration rate. GM's Chevrolet was second at 30.4%, followed by Toyota (29.6%), Honda (24.8%) and DaimlerChrysler's Dodge (24.1%).

Toyota's luxury brand, Lexus, placed sixth with a consideration rate of 18.1, and Dodge stablemate Chrysler landed in 10th place at 15.4%; no other Ford or GM product finished in the top 10.

"Generally, GM has more influence in areas where the population is older, less affluent and less educated," said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. "The implication of this information is significant because future brand consideration is a major contributor to future sales."

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