US March auto sales fall 40% year over year

01 April 2009 23:21  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US automotive industry received more bad news on Wednesday after statistics released said March sales fell by 40% year over year to 670,303 units.

"The 40% is based on a fairly decent run rate last year," said Dennis Virag, president of Automotive Consulting Group in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"Sales this time last year were still fairly strong," he said. "If you look at the sales number month to month we've actually seen a slight pick up in sales."

Sales in the third month of 2009 were slightly better than January, when sales dropped 41%, and February when year-over-year figures fell off by 45%.

Faltering US automotive giant General Motors (GM) saw its sales drop 45% in March and Chrysler's March sales compared with a year earlier were down by 39%.

Both automakers have been propped up by billions of US government money since December and are on strict timelines to reduce spending to become profitable in the long term.

Earlier this week, GM was granted 60 days and Chrysler 30 days by the Barack Obama administration to make drastic changes.

The other US auto producer, Ford, which had not relied on government help, had a year-over-year sales decline of 41% in March.

The automobile industry is an important chemical end market, in that each vehicle has nearly $2,700 (2,025) worth of chemical products or chemical processing value, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said.

The plunge in car and truck sales has been felt most with automotive parts manufacturers.

Johnson Controls, a US auto-parts maker for GM, Toyota and Honda, announced 10 plant closures in addition to 21 plants it shut last year and 9,300 job cuts, which amounted to 7% of its global workforce.

The US Treasury Department said it would provide the ailing auto parts manufacturers with $5bn in aid to stave off collapse.

Virag said December through February is historically the weakest time for auto sales, and predicted that sales numbers might be less shocking in coming months.

But it might be too late for GM and Chrysler.

"Regardless of what happens in April and May, both GM and Chrysler are in a predicament," he said.

The table below reflects March sales.


2009

2008



Car

Truck

Total

Car

Truck

Total

% change

Chrysler

23,668

77,333

101,001

48,339

118,047

166,386

-39

Ford

46,467

78,640

125,107

73,296

139,778

213,074

-41

GM

68,877

87,503

156,380

117,378

165,354

282,732

-45

Honda

55,294

33,085

88,379

83,214

55,520

138,734

-36

Nissan

43,187

23,447

66,634

66,475

40,446

106,921

-38

Toyota

80,597

52,205

132,802

124,829

84,588

209,417

-37

Total

318,090

352,213

670,303

513,531

603,733

1,117,264

-40


($1 = €0.75)

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By: Ryan Hickman
+1 713 525 2653



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