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February 2009 Sales: Ford Motor Company

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Ford sales dive 48 percent as auto slump continues

Tuesday March 3, 12:30 pm ET

By Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer

Ford sales drop 48 percent as economic woes continue to keep buyers away from showrooms

DETROIT (AP) -- Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales fell 48 percent in February, a sign that the new car market could hit the lowest point in more than 27 years as huge rebates and low-interest financing fail to spur fearful consumers to make a major purchase.

Ford, the first automaker to report sales Tuesday, said it sold 99,060 vehicles last month, compared with the 192,248 it sold in February 2008.

The drop is another indication that mass layoffs, the stock market decline and sliding home values are prompting people to hold on to their cars longer. Those who are buying are more often opting for a used car or truck.

It also casts further doubt on the financial viability of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, making it difficult for them to sell cars and generate critical cash to supplement the $17.4 billion in government loans that are keeping them in business.

Industry analysts say when all the numbers are tallied, February sales could be worse than January's total of 656,976 light vehicles. That was the lowest monthly total since the industry sold 656,310 vehicles in December 1981, according to Autodata Corp. and Ward's AutoInfoBank.

The trough is likely even though automakers spent more on rebates, low-interest financing and other incentives in an effort to bring out buyers. But despite the fantastic deals, sales continued to slump.

"If it wasn't for the generous level of incentives now, we probably would be seeing even lower sales, if you can believe it," said Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for the auto Web site Edmunds.com. "It seems it can't get lower, but it could."

Toprak said there's little automakers can do to spur sales, which are likely to drop for every major automaker.

"You can spend money on marketing or incentives. That's all you can do," he said. "Neither is having a big impact a big impact on sales. That tells us it's really consumer confidence and the general negative state of the economy overall causing consumers to postpone making purchase decisions."

AP Auto Writer Kimberly S. Johnson contributed to this report.

Edited by DBeaSSt

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