2 Oct 2008

US auto sales plunge as credit crunch hits

8:51 am on 2 October 2008

Auto sales plunged in the United States in September.

The downturn coincided with a crisis on Wall Street and included the industry's better-performing brands.

Sales were down 34% at Ford Motor Co, 24% at Honda Motor Co Ltd, 32% at Toyota Motor Corp and 37% at Nissan Motor Co Ltd.

General Motors Corp managed to keep its September sales decline to 16% to take a larger share of a rapidly declining market. Chrysler LLC was also expected to post lower sales.

Earlier this year, a sharp rise in gasoline prices accelerated a shift in consumer demand toward more fuel-efficient cars and away from large trucks and SUVs.

But lack of credit for car shoppers has supplanted gas prices as a reason for lost sales in recent months.

The drop in sales is despite stepped-up discounting on 2008 models, including an employee-pricing offer from GM.