Saturday, October 04, 2008

Global Auto Meltdown

Analysts had already predicted that the credit crisis would take a bite out of auto loans -- and, therefore, out of auto sales. On Wednesday, we learned just how bad things are.

Americans bought 964,873 vehicles last month, the first time in 15 years that monthly U.S. sales fell below 1 million.

Ford Motor reported a whopping 33.8% decline from last September, far worse than the expected 22% decline.

General Motors reported a 15.6% decline in September sales, better than analysts' expectations for a 26% drop. And Chrysler, which is majority-owned by private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, reported a 33% drop.

"An already weak economy compounded by very tight credit conditions has created an atmosphere of caution," Jim Farley, Ford's worldwide-marketing chief, said in a statement Wednesday. "Even if you have good credit, there's a reluctance to pull the trigger on a big-ticket item" like a car.

Ford said the dismal sales were "tantamount . . . to a natural disaster."

The automaker, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its first Model T, had 60% of the global auto market in 1924, according to John Wolkonowicz, auto analyst at Global Insight. In the first half of 2008, Ford was fourth in worldwide sales.

Sales of Ford's flagship F-series pickups, normally the best-selling vehicles in the United States, were down nearly 42% from a year ago, while sport-utility-vehicle sales tanked 57% last month.

And the problems weren't restricted to U.S. manufacturers: Japanese automaker Toyota Motor reported a 32.3% decline in sales.

Source - MSN Money


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