Ford has fallen out of the US big three automakers group, being beaten in the sales race by General Motors, Toyota and DaimlerChrysler for the first time in the company’s history. The Blue Oval managed to retain 15.2% of the US market for January, with GM taking 22.4%, Toyota on 16.1% and DaimlerChrysler with 15.9%. The same month saw Ford report its largest annual financial loss in its history, a discouraging $12.7 billion in the red.

Officials from Ford have said the drop came from a deliberate cut to low-profit daily rental fleet business. But its retail sales have fallen 5% as well. Significant cost-cutting procedures are already in place, with the company racing to reduce its workforce and shut-down several plants. Even its popular F-series pickup range, which includes the number one vehicle sold in the US last year, saw a drop in sales of 15% for the month of January.

DaimlerChrysler, ranked third in US sales for the month, is also planning to cut first-quarter production by a "significant" margin, according to company spokesman Jason Vines. Toyota remains the biggest threat to US domestics, with numerous analysts predicting it will overtake GM this year to become the world’s number one carmaker.