DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler arm reported sharp declines in U.S. auto sales for May, while General Motors Corp. managed a slim gain.
Ford, in the midst of a costly program to replace 13 million Firestone tires, said domestic sales dropped 12 percent. Chrysler said its sales last month were off 8 percent.
GM, the world’s largest automaker, said its sales inched up 1 percent.
The companies’ results excluded sales from foreign brands.
While sales of GM passenger cars dropped 8 percent last month, a 9 percent jump in truck sales accounted for the automaker’s overall sales increase.
“It was a very good month for the industry” coming off a record 2000, said Paul Bellew, GM’s executive director for market and industry analysis.
Last year, sales by U.S. automakers totaled a record 17.4 million.
George Pipas, Ford sales analysis manager, blamed the drop-off in sales on increased competition, higher gas prices and “the U.S. economy not growing as much as a year ago.”
Profits were also hurt by weak sales of Ford’s sport utility vehicles. Sales of the restyled 2002 Explorer dropped 16.5 percent from sales of its predecessor a year ago.
Ford announced the tire recall last week after concluding Wilderness AT tires installed on several of its SUVs, including the best-selling Explorer, would fail at a greater rate than competitors’ tires.
Ford will take a $2.1 billion after-tax charge this quarter to pay for the program.
Some foreign automakers fared better. Honda reported its best-ever May with a 5.4 percent rise.
Nissan showed an almost 7 percent sales increase. BMW’s sales jumped 32 percent and sales of Hyundai vehicles soared 34 percent. Volkswagen sales rose 4 percent.
On the Net:
Ford Motor Co., http://www.ford.com
DaimlerChrysler AG, http://www.daimlerchrysler.com
General Motors Corp., http://www.gm.com/