Asian automakers dethrone Detroit in 2009 US sales

Asian automakers dethroned Detroit as the biggest sellers in the United States in 2009 after General Motors and Chrysler succumbed to the strain of the economic crisis, industry data showed.

Total industry sales fell 21.2 percent to 10.43 million vehicles in 2009, according to Autodata.

That is the lowest level since the 1983 recession and drastically below the 15 to 17 million vehicle range posted in the previous 15 years.

GM and Chrysler saw their sales suffer more than most after seeking billions of dollars in government aid and restructuring under bankruptcy protection.

While Ford managed to both stay afloat and increase its piece of the shrunken market, the Detroit Three’s overall share fell to 44.2 percent of their home market from 47.5 percent in 2008.

Asian brands captured a 47.4 percent share in 2009, up from 44.6 percent in 2008, Autodata said. It was the first time they gained a bigger piece than GM, Chrysler and Ford combined, which held a 60 percent share as recently as 2004 and a 70 percent share a decade ago.

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