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US New-Vehicle Sales Down 41 Percent in February

March 05, 2009

DETROIT — New-vehicle sales fell again last month as U.S. dealers moved 688,909 units, nearly 1.8 million fewer than in February 2008, a 41 percent drop. A Detroit News report indicated that the economic recession and declining consumer confidence may mean the worst is yet to come.

"It's unsettling to our business and, clearly, we hope we're seeing the trough and that we will see growth as the (Obama) stimulus package kicks in," Mike DiGiovanni, General Motors' executive director of global market analysis, told the Detroit News. "If we don't see that, these are obviously unsustainable levels that are causing almost every major auto manufacturer to look for government aid."

GM's sales were down by 53.1 percent year over year. Their major U.S. competitors, Chrysler and Ford, reported declines of 44 percent and 48 percent, respectively.

"We did not reach the bottom," said Ford economist Emily Kolinski Morris. "In today's fragile economic environment, we have to be careful not to miss a signal that conditions are worsening."

The major import brands suffered as well, with Toyota reporting a drop of nearly 40 percent and Honda and Nissan both down by 37 to 38 percent. Hyundai's recent marketing efforts, including the Hyundai Assurance vehicle buy-back program, helped limit their losses to 1.5 percent year over year.

The full text of the Detroit News article can be found here.

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