Automobile sales in the United States down sharply

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 

Sales of automobiles in the United States fell as much as 35% in January, compared to the same month a year ago, as manufacturers reported their January sales.

Ford Motor Company NYSE: F sales dropped 42% last month from the previous year. General Motors NYSE: GM reported a 49% decline. Chrysler was hardest hit among the domestically owned manufacturers with a plunge of 55%.

The decline in sales has not been limited to just US manufacturers. Japanese automaker Toyota NYSE: TM reported a 32% drop in US sales from a year earlier, Nissan MotorsNASDAQ: NSANY dropped 30%, and Honda NYSE: HMC sales dropped 28%.

Subaru and South Korean Hyundai Motor Company LSE: HYUD were two of the few auto firms that reported an increase in sales. They posted gains of eight and fourteen percent, respectively.

On an annual basis, sales overall have also been plummeting. Industry-wide US car sales dropped 18% last year to 13.2 million automobiles.

GM announced today that it will offer voluntary buyouts to 22,000 employees in the US, in an effort to reduce its expenditures.

Last month, GM and Chrysler were given loans worth US$17.4 billion from the government after they warned of imminent bankruptcy.

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