| -

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — When January's new-vehicle sales figures are finalized, it is projected that market share for Toyota will fall to its lowest level in almost four years and the automaker is the only one of the seven major manufacturers expected to show a double-digit decline in year-over-year sales, according to Edmunds.com.

Specifically, Toyota's January sales are likely to total 103,000 units, an 11.9-percent downturn from a year ago (unadjusted for selling days) and off 45 percent compared to December.

"Toyota's market share is likely to drop to 14.7 percent in January," noted Michelle Krebs, senior analysts for Edmunds.com. "The last time it was that low was in March 2006 when its share was 14.2 percent of U.S. sales."

A year ago, Toyota commanded 17.9 percent of the market, and in December, its market share was 18.3 percent.

Overall, the industry's new-vehicle sales are expected climb 7.1 percent year-over-year to 701,000 units, which would be a 31.7-percent dip from December.

Because January had two fewer selling days than the same month a year ago, the adjusted year-over-year sales hike is expected to be 16 percent.

"December is generally one of the strongest sales months of the year, while January is typically one of the weakest, and that held true this season," shared Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com. "This month's sales were buoyed by hefty hikes in fleet sales."

Hyundai is the only other one of the seven largest OEMs besides Toyota expected to show a year-over-year sales decrease (unadjusted). Its projected year-over-year decline is only 0.9 percent. Edmunds.com anticipates Hyundai will move 46,000 vehicles for January, a 15.8-percent softening from December.

The Korean automaker's market share is likely to be 6.6 percent, compared with 7.1 percent last year and 5.3 percent last month.

Ford, meanwhile, is likely to show the heaviest gains from January 2009, as its sales are expected to be 126,000 units, a 33.4-percent increase. Compared to December, these figures are off 30.4 percent.

Ford is also projected to take its largest market share in almost four years.

"In contrast (to Toyota), Ford is expected to have its best month for market share since May 2006," Krebs stated. "Edmunds.com forecasts Ford's share at 18.0 percent. The last time it was that high was in May 2006 at 18.4 percent."

Ford's market share in December was 17.6 percent and it was 14.4 percent a year ago.

Continuing on, Edmunds.com forecasts Chrysler's January sales at 65,000 units, a 5.7-percent improvement from last year and a 24.3-percent drop from December. Its resulting market share would be 9.3 percent, compared with 9.4 percent a year ago and 8.4 percent last month.

At General Motors, Edmunds.com is projecting January sales of 140,000 units, a gain of 8.8 percent versus last year and a 32.7-percent sequential decline. GM is expected to take 19.9 percent of the market. A year ago, its market share was 19.6 percent and in December it was 20.2 percent.

Edmunds.com expects the combined market share for Big 3 to be 47.2 percent for the month. In December, it was 46.2 percent and a year ago, it was 43.4 percent.

Moving on, Honda is expected to move 73,000 units, marking a 2.8-percent year-over-year improvement and 31.9-percent dip from the previous month.

Edmunds.com forecasts Honda's market share at 10.4 percent, versus the 10.8 percent share it took a year ago. Last month, Honda's share was 10.4 percent, as well.

Finally, Nissan's January new-car sales are likely to reach 61,000 vehicles, a gain of 13.7 percent year-over-year and a 16.5-percent softening versus last month.

Nissan is project to take 8.7 percent market share, compared with 8.2 percent a year ago and 7.2 percent last month.