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Automotive sales trends

Date posted:  4/15/15 05:30:00 AM Ford is closing the gap on Toyota in the American market.

If Toyota isn't already looking over its shoulder, the Japanese-based automobile manufacturer better start.

Ford, with its popular Fusion mid-size car and Escape SUV, is starting to close the gap on Toyota as the top pick among retail auto buyers, according to Bloomberg.

After a generation of car buyers didn't hesitate to purchase any of Toyota's models due to high quality and a pension for long-lasting durability, a growing number of consumers are starting to pull away from the brand.

"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," Tom Libby, auto analyst for IHS Automotive, told Bloomberg. "It now appears their march forward has been slowed."

Bloomberg reported Toyota has lost some of its stake in the market due to stiffer competition, recalls and natural disasters. In the U.S. retail market, Toyota's market share fell to 13.4 percent in 2013, down from 16.3 percent in 2008, according to data from IHS Automotive using Polk vehicle registration records.

Coincidentally - or maybe not at all - Toyota's 2.8 percentage point drop equaled Ford's gain over that span, which now sits at a 13.2 percent market share.

Bloomberg reported that retail registrations are commonly the best measure of U.S. consumers because they don't include bulk car purchases to corporate and government customers.

Prior to the recession

Before the housing bubble burst several years ago, Americans made the Toyota Camry and Corolla the best selling sedan and compact car. But those models now have much more rugged competition, with Ford, Hyundai and Subaru now in the mix.

Cash-strapped families or individuals that own a home but do not have a good shot at nabbing a new automobile should look into a home equity line of credit. This allows a borrower to put their home down as collateral, while a bank or financial institution will in turn give them a line of credit to use as they see fit, atypically a down payment on a car, home renovations or student loan repayment.

The big three in car sales

General Motors, which has four brands of cars including Cadillac and Chevrolet, was the top vehicle seller in February, according to Bloomberg. Ford finished second and Toyota took third. Interestingly, those three may all report a declines in sales for February, while Chrysler and Nissan could report gains, according to Bloomberg.

Light vehicle sales around the country could climb 0.3 percent in February to nearly 1.2 million units, Bloomberg reported. The annualized rate, which adjusts for seasonal trends, seems likely to jump to 15.4 million in February, up from 15.3 million in February 2013.

That's somewhat surprising for many industry experts because the frigid weather and downfall of snow was expected to severely slow car purchases in February.

Car executives losing their jobs
With slow sales since the start of the new year, CNN reported that many executives at different car companies around the globe are losing their jobs, including top executives at Hyundai, Volkswagen, Nissan, Kia and Chevrolet.

CNN explained that "retirement" or "personal reasons" were among the most commonly used official explanations, but the source believes its due to low sales.

"Executive turnover is everywhere these days," Jessica Caldwell, a sales analyst with, told CNN. "It seems almost as common as vehicle recalls."