After all the sales numbers for the month of January were released, reports began popping up that Ford had fallen to fourth place in sales in the U.S. last month behind General Motors, Toyota and the Chrysler Group. This is nothing more than selective journalism, with journos picking out the numbers that serve a sensational headline like "Ford's #4!". Basically, the battle for third place in sales in the U.S. is between Ford and DCX, and the victor depends on which brands you count in both company's sales numbers. In the past, Ford had always been counted as sales from Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and the Premier Automotive Group that includes Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. If all those brands are counted, which they usually are, Ford sold 166,835 vehicles. Normally DaimlerChrysler sales are split in two between the Chrysler Group and Mercedes-Benz. The Chrysler Group sold 156,308 units in January, while Mercedes-Benz sold 17,069 last month. Together, DaimlerChrysler as a whole sold 173,377. True, in the battle of Ford vs. DaimlerChrysler, DCX wins. Even in the battle of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vs. Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep, the Chrysler Group again wins by a narrow margin of 156,308 to 153,026. However, if the numbers are calculated in the way that have been since we've been paying attention, Ford (including PAG) sold 166,835 units to the Chrysler Group's 156,308 units.

The problem is that, to our knowledge, the standard practice has been to count Ford's domestic brands with all of PAG and to count the Chrysler Group separately from Mercedes-Benz. We've pretty much been following the lead of each automaker, which releases their sales numbers in that fashion. Now, whether or not Mercedes sales should be split off from those of the Chrysler Group is an argument for another day. We just think it's convenient for some journalists to change the unofficial rules of the game to suit a sensational headline.

[Source: the Detroit News - "A NEW BIG 3?"]