U.S. Auto Sales Plummet: Where Is The Bottom?

The auto industry continues to take a beating as U.S. sales plummeted 18 percent last year. In December alone, sales dropped 36 percent.

Two of the Detroit Three automakers were particularly hard-hit. General Motors Corp. sold 3 million vehicles, its lowest level in half a century, while Chrysler sold 1.5 million, down 30 percent. The only other companies that saw vehicle sales fall more than 30 percent last year were Jaguar Land Rover and Isuzu, and both sell mostly trucks. U.S. truck sales overall were down 25 percent to 6.5 million; car sales fell 10 percent to 6.7 million.

Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp., which announced Tuesday that it's suspending production at its 12 plants in Japan for 11 days in February and March, saw its U.S. sales drop 15 percent to 2.2 million vehicles last year.

Overall, U.S. sales fell to 13 million vehicles, compared with 16 million in 2007.

Sales may fall further this year: Consulting firm IHS Global Insight forecasts U.S. auto sales will dip to 10.3 million in 2009 as the economy continues to falter.

From NPR staff and wire reports

Auto sales chart



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