New light vehicle sales in the United States took a predictable path last month - Detroit Big Three down, Toyota up.

Ford posted the highest drop - 13.1% to 190,359 cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. Chrysler, which on Thursday announced shift, worker and model cuts to match output to falling sales, was off 12.4% to 145,316 sales while GM posted a 0.6% 'fall' to 307,592. Its October 2007 unit sales were actually up (307,592 vs 297,547 last year) but Ward's data factors in available selling days and there were 26 last month compared with 25 in October 2006.

"Growing concerns about the housing slump are showing up in consumers' expectations about future economic conditions as auto sales for the month of October continue below trend levels," said Chrysler sales chief Darryl Jackson.

Toyota reported best-ever October sales of 197,592 vehicles, an increase of 0.5% over last October.

"Showroom traffic was strongest from the Midwest through the Gulf States," said executive vice president Jim Lentz. "In Southern California, wildfires crimped a key market already impacted by the housing downturn."

Nissan volume was up 8.8% to 84,970 but Honda sales, adjusted for one extra selling day, were off 0.2% to 114,799 though, like GM, unit sales were actually up on last year.

"Car sales are gaining momentum and response to the new Accord has been positive," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda. "Car sales are up for a variety of reasons, but the number one reason is that compelling products with inherent value generate consumer interest."

Amongst Asian brands, Kia posted the largest October rise - 20.5% to 25,185 units, Mazda was up 13.3% to 22,201 and Suzuki sales rose 5.6% to 6,536.

"We've kicked off the fall season strong with our pillar vehicles - Spectra and Sportage - lifting the brand," said Kia COO Len Hunt. "We are on pace for another annual sales record."

Results were all-positive for the German brands - Porsche up 16.9%, Mercedes up 6.5%, VW up 6.1% and BMW, 5.4%.

Mercedes-Benz said last month was the strongest this year and its best October on record.

Year to date, Detroit's Big Three are off 7.7% to 7,085,354 units while the Asian brands have gained 3.8% to 5,669,088. European automakers are up 3.8% to 775,575.

Of the domestics, Ford is down the most at 13.4% to 2,118,008, reflecting its pull-back from fleet sales and falling truck sales as the mortgage crisis continues to affect house sales and construction starts.

Amongst the Asian importers, Mitsubishi, recovering from its own sub-prime lending scandal a few years ago, is up 15.8% for the year.

BMW leads the European importers with 8.2% growth so far in 2007.

10 Best Selling U.S. Cars and Trucks
Summary of sales
U.S. Light Vehicle Sales by Company