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Industry sales plunge 32%, GM down 45%

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Automotive News

November 3, 2008 - 12:06 pm ET

UPDATED: 11/3/08 3:57 p.m. EST

DETROIT -- Auto sales at General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC plunged in October, dragging the U.S. industry to a 32 percent decline and its weakest performance in a quarter century.

GM plummeted 45.1 percent from a year earlier. Ford sold 132,248 cars and trucks, down 32 percent. Toyota Motor Corp. outsold Ford on its way to its 23 percent drop. Daimler AG and American Honda were down more than 24 percent, while Nissan, Hyundai and Chrysler were all down at least 33 percent.

"If you adjust for population growth, this is probably the worst industry sales month in the post-WWII era," said Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president for sales and marketing.

"Until the credit markets open up and consumer confidence improves, the entire U.S. economy, and any industry like autos that relies on financing, will suffer."

October's performance pushed the industry's slide for the year-to-date to 14.6 percent -- or nearly 2 million units -- to 11.6 million vehicles sold. The industry sold 13.6 million vehicles through the same 10-month period a year ago.

Vehicles sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 10.9 million, the lowest since March 1983, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. For the second time in as many months, industry sales fell below 1 million. It was the U.S. market's 12th-straight monthly decline and the second straight of more than 25 percent.

No hot segments

"When the industry is hovering around 11 million, there are no hot segments or hot products," Ford sales analyst George Pipas said today. "These are very challenging times.''

U.S. auto sales averaged 16.8 million this decade through 2007.

Ford's U.S. brands -- Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury -- fell 29.2 percent. Its Volvo unit plunged 52.1 percent. Ford's comparisons factor in 5,267 Jaguars and Land Rovers from October 2007; the U.K. brands are now owned by India's Tata Motors Ltd.

Lowest since March 1983

Of the four biggest automakers in the United States, only two have reported monthly sales increases this year: GM in January and Toyota in April. Ford's last increase was in November 2007.

Chrysler has posted one monthly gain under its current owner, Cerberus Capital Management LP, in December. Cerberus is talking to GM and other automakers about a possible sale.

Audi posts a gain

Volkswagen's Audi luxury unit was the only brand to have an increase for the month. The VW brand dropped 7.9 percent.

"This is the toughest economy we've seen in a long time," Mark Barnes, COO of VW Group of America, said in a statement.

Porsche, Isuzu, and Suzuki fell more than 45 percent.

Jim Tidwell Ford in Atlanta sold 132 new and used vehicles in October, said Blake Dobbs, new-car sales manager. At the start of the year, the monthly average was about 250.

A 31 percent decline in average U.S. gasoline prices during the month helped trucks, he said. But one new Ford vehicle, the Flex, has been a disappointment, said Dobbs.

"We ordered a bunch to help Ford out, but the price point is too high,'' he said. "We only sold two in October."

Link: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti...paign_id=alerts

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... and yet, strangely, the Canadian market was actually up 1.5% in October. I've been told that if Toronto was taken out of the picture, GM is actually doing very well this year in Canada. :scratchchin:

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Maybe we need to fire the whole Toronto GM sales force, then, right?



I am told that Toronto is a 'sophisticated' market. Translation: they'll buy anything foreign. Rosedale and Forest Hill are a sea of dark grey BMWs and Lexi. Too bad, so sad - they are going to be the first to lose their jobs as our banks/insurance companies get hit by the world-wide market implosion.

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