DETOIRT (Jan. 5, 2009) — General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., American Honda and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. all reported sales declines of more than 31 percent in December as the U.S. auto industry capped its worst year since the early 1990s.
GM´s 31.2 percent drop was its third straight of more than 30 percent. Ford´s fall was its 23rd in the past 24 months, and Honda was down for the sixth straight month. Toyota´s 36.7 percent plunge followed a 33.9 percent drop in November.
Nissan Motor Co. also posted a 30.7 percent decline for December.
The results bolster analysts´ forecasts for an industrywide fall of more than one-third. That would be the fourth straight monthly tumble of more than 25 percent, amid the longest U.S. recession since the early 1980s and a national debate over whether the federal government should rescue GM and Chrysler L.L.C.
"This sequential deterioration in sales is particularly concerning because December should typically have benefited from the generous year-end incentives," said Brian Johnson, an analyst with Barclays Capital, in a research note released before today´s figures. "This reinforces the likelihood that industry sales will remain at or below the current depressed rates at least for the next few months." A December decline would be the 18th for the industry in the past 19 months.
Analysts forecast that December demand would plunge to a new low for the year, to about 10 million units on a seasonally adjusted basis. The annual sales rate, which dropped to 10.3 million in November, has not fallen below 10 million since August 1982. Ford fell 34.4 percent for the month, and Honda was down 34.7 percent. A December sales decline of 35 percent will put total 2008 light vehicle sales at 13.2 million in the United States, analysts said. That total would be the lowest since 1992. The 2007 total was 16.2 million.