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Sales plummet for nearly all automakers

July 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Grim news from the auto industry where overall sales dropped last month by 18 percent. But that bad news for automakers could mean great deals for consumers.Car dealerships have looked more like ghost towns in the recent months as new car sales have fallen due to economic hardships.

James Grundler, who is in the market for a new car, is of a shrinking number of buyers who was shopping for a car on Wednesday.

"We looked at the SUVs and the larger vehicles and you keep seeing the gas prices go up and it sways your opinion of what kind of vehicle you are going to buy," said Grundler.

Even as car makers earnings head south, car sales are up near seven percent from this time last year. The trouble is with truck sales.

The problem for companies like Ford, is that trucks make up 60 to 75 percent of their sales, which goes along way in explaining why the dealership lots are full of SUVs.

"We would normally have around 400 of our pickup trucks, today I have 750," said president of Galpin Ford, Bert Boeckmann.

General Motors sales are off 18 percent from this time last year. Ford is down 28 percent and Chrysler sales are off by 36 percent.

"Consumers are watching gas prices go up. They are watching food prices go up. They are uncertain about the economy. So if you don't need a car you don't go out and buy one unless you get a fuel efficient vehicle," said Jack Kyser from L.A. Economic Development Corp.

With demand low and volume high dealerships are now virtually giving away trucks and SUVs.

"If a person wanted to buy a truck now is the time to do it, because I really got great prices," said Boeckmann.

A hard sell with more and more consumers hitting the breaks.

 

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