Auto sales ‘unsustainably weak’; GM’s fall 45 pct.

General Motors’ October U.S. sales plunged 45 percent, and Ford’s and Chrysler’s weren’t far behind, as low consumer confidence and tight credit combined to bring the industry’s sales to an “unsustainably weak level” that is the worst in 25 years.

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Automakers sold 838,156 vehicles in October, 32 percent fewer than the same month last year and the worst performance since January 1991, according to Autodata Corp. and Ward’s AutoInfoBank. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 10.6 million vehicles was the lowest since February 1983.

“It’s really an unsustainably weak level for all manufacturers,” said Mike DiGiovanni, GM’s executive director of global market and industry analysis. “This is clearly a severe, severe recession for the U.S. automotive industry and something we really can’t sustain.”

By TOM KRISHER and BREE FOWLER, AP Auto Writers

The annual sales rate in October 2007 was 16.1 million.

Chrysler’s sales tumbled 35 percent and Ford’s dropped 30 percent. Toyota’s sales fell 23 percent despite its zero-percent financing offer, and Nissan and Honda posted 33 percent and 25 percent declines, respectively.

Overall, General Motors Corp. sold 168,719 vehicles in October, while Ford Motor Co., including its Volvo brand, sold 132,278 light vehicles and Chrysler LLC’s sales totaled 94,530 units.

If GM’s sales were adjusted for population growth, October would be the worst month of the post-World War II era, DiGiovanni said.

“Clearly we’re in a very dire situation,” he said. Detroit-based GM said its light truck sales tumbled 51 percent compared with the same month last year, while demand for passenger cars fell 34 percent.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081103/ap_on_bi_ge/
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