December 3, 2008 in Business

November U.S. auto sales plummet

Carmakers average 36 percent drop from 2007
Detroit Free Press
 
Associated Press photo

Unsold 2008 Passions sit at a Smart dealership in Englewood, Colo.
(Full-size photo)

DETROIT – Sales of Chrysler LLC cars and trucks in the United States plunged 47 percent in November compared with a year earlier, the automaker reported Tuesday. General Motors Corp.’s sales dropped 41.3 percent, and Ford Motor Co.’s sales were down 30.6 percent.

Among foreign automakers, Toyota Motor Corp.’s sales in the U.S. dropped 33.9 percent, and American Honda Motor Co.’s sales fell 31.6 percent in November.

Mike DiGiovanni, GM executive director of global market and industry analysis, said the automaker believes the U.S. auto industry dropped about 36 percent in November.

“We cannot continue to operate at these levels or the entire industry’s going to go down,” DiGiovanni said.

The three Detroit automakers are seeking emergency federal loans to get them through the current economic slump.

Chrysler attributed the sales decline to the economic turmoil, tightened credit markets, reduced consumer confidence and planned reduction in fleet sales.

“2008 will go down as unlike any other year in the industry, and thus, comparisons to 2007 sales have become irrelevant,” Jim Press, Chrysler vice chairman and president, said in a statement. “In this environment, we need to evaluate sales based on month-to-month trends, with the last two months of the year being especially important to determine if we have established a base for sales in 2009.”

Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president of marketing and communications, said, “We believe the economy will continue to weaken in 2009.”

Ford said it planned to produce 430,000 vehicles in the first quarter of 2009, down from 692,000 vehicles a year earlier, because of continued declines in demand.

The November results meant Chrysler’s sales for the year were down 28 percent and Ford’s sales were down 19.7 percent.

Among Chrysler models, the Chrysler 300 saw its sales drop 70 percent last month. The declines for other models were 55 percent for the Dodge Grand Caravan, 41 percent for the Chrysler Town & Country and 37 percent for the Dodge Ram.

At Ford, sales were off 30 percent for the Ford brand and down 8.3 percent for Lincoln, 41.4 percent for Mercury and 46.5 percent for Volvo. All types of vehicles, from cars to trucks, suffered.


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