Auto Sales Fall in U.S. after Summer's Cash for Clunkers

Thursday GM, Ford and Chrysler reported September sales declines. That reveals tough results of this summer's Cash for Clunkers buying spree.

General Motors Co. reported the steepest drop, 45 percent, when compared with September of last year. Chrysler Group LLC was down 42 percent and Ford Motor Co. had a much smaller decline of 5.1 percent.

But Hyundai bucked the trend, reporting a 27-percent rise in sales last month over a year earlier.

Automakers got a big lift in July and August from clunkers, which spurred sales of nearly 700,000 new cars and trucks. The government program's big discounts lured in many customers who otherwise would have waited until later in the year to walk into dealerships, The Associated Press reports.

It was also reported, the Ford Motor Company said its sales declined 5 percent from September 2008. For the entire third quarter, though, sales by Ford’s three domestic brands rose 5 percent, marking its first quarterly increase in four years.

Ford said sales of its F-series pickup truck rose for the second consecutive month, a positive indication about the housing market and broader economy, as the F-series is frequently purchased by building contractors and other businesses.

The best news for the month came from Hyundai, which has been gaining momentum throughout the recession. Hyundai said its sales rose 27 percent in September.

Total industry sales are expected to be 23 percent less than a year ago, according to a forecast by the Web site, The New York Times reports.

News agencies also report, for the full quarter, Ford, Lincoln and Mercury sales were 5% higher than a year ago. The automaker estimates it gained more than 2 points of market share in September and for the full quarter -- the 11th time in the last 12 months it has gained in that metric.

Industry-wide, was looking for a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of about 9.3 million cars and trucks, down from 14.1 million in August, with some leftover deliveries from the so-called clunker deals buoying results.

But Ford beat the expectations: The car-buying research Web site predicted that sales at Chrysler and General Motors would be down by half, while Ford was expected to post a 13.3% decline, MarketWatch reports.

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