Wednesday, January 07, 2009

December US Auto Sales Dip 36 Percent

December US Auto Sales Dip 36 Percent.

On the front page of its Marketplace section, the Wall Street Journal (1/6, B1, Terlep, Dolan) reports, "US auto sales tumbled again in December, capping one of the worst years for the industry in decades and solidifying the view that more turmoil lies ahead in 2009." According to Autodata Corp, "sales of cars and light trucks fell 36 percent to 896,124 vehicles. ... That is an improvement over both November and October," but "continuing the pattern of recent months, December's vehicle sales fell as cash-strapped Americans simply stayed away from dealerships or had difficulty securing auto loans. For many consumers, worries about losing their jobs and sinking home values trumped the year-end rebates and financing deals automakers rolled out in the last few weeks."

        The AP (1/6, Krisher) notes, "Huge rebates and zero-percent loans couldn't overcome economic uncertainty as US auto sales plunged 36 percent in December, capping a dismal year that saw sales free-fall by 2.9 million vehicles from 2007." The AP points out, "Every major manufacturer reported drops of more than 30 percent in December."

        Another AP (1/6, Fowler) article adds that Chrysler said on Monday "its December sales dropped 53 percent because of the recession and fewer fleet sales, while Toyota Motor Corp. reported a 37 percent slide and Honda Motor Co. said its sales tumbled 35 percent." Additionally, "Ford Motor Co.'s US sales fell 32 percent in December. General Motors Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. both posted 31 percent declines."

        Subaru Posts Increased US Sales For 2008. The AP (1/6) reports, "Subaru said Monday its US sales crept higher in 2008 on strong demand for Forester and Impreza models. The Japanese company is the only major automaker so far to post an increase in yearly sales," which "rose by 0.3 percent." But, because the "big increase in Forester sales failed to overcome declines in its remaining models," Subaru's sales in December "fell 7.7 percent" from the previous year. According to Subaru, "Forester sales surged 36.4 percent in 2008. The company's updated 2008 model-year Forester was named sport/utility of the year in December by Motor Trend magazine."

        GM Reports 2008 China Sales Up Six Percent. The AP (1/6) reports, "General Motors Corp. (GM) said Tuesday its 2008 sales in China rose 6 percent to 1.09 million vehicles, but growth slowed as the market suffered from an economic downturn." GM is targeting "China's booming auto market to drive global sales growth as North American demand slumps." The "automaker reported 19 percent sales growth in 2007 including joint ventures." Kevin Wale, president of GM China, said "a series of natural disasters and an increase in fuel prices earlier in the year exacerbated the impact of the global economic downturn in China."