Auto sales cool off in August: GM and FoMoCo down, Chrysler up 7%

From L to R: Alan Mulally, Sergio Marchionne, Ed Whitacre (replaced by Akerson)

As expected auto sales cooled off during the month of August with the overall sales down 21 percent.

“The car market and the overall economy are pretty weak,” said Joe Phillippi, principal of consulting firm AutoTrends in Short Hills, N.J. “Showroom traffic is down. We still have issues on the margin with some people not being able to get credit, and people are nervous.”

FoMoCo’s Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers delivered 157,503 new vehicles in August, down 11 percent versus a year ago, when FoMoCo outpaced the industry during the “Cash for Clunkers” sales program.

“Ford continues to outperform the overall industry,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “In this market, consumers are looking for vehicles that offer industry-leading quality, fuel economy, safety and technologies, and growing numbers of them are turning to Ford.”

August sales for Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac were down by a combined 11 percent to 184,921 units, compared to August 2009, a month in which the automotive industry experienced the highest level of sales in 2009 due to the Cash for Clunkers stimulus program. Compared to July 2010, sales for GM”s brands were down 7 percent.

“Last year”s Cash for Clunkers program spiked industry sales in 2009, so results this August were, not surprisingly, a bit mixed,” said Don Johnson, vice president, U.S. Sales Operations. “Importantly, three of our four divisions showed solid gains. This is further evidence that our performance is the result of balanced contributions across our brands.”

Chrysler Group LLC reported U.S. sales of 99,611, a 7 percent increase compared with sales in August 2009, making it the only major auto manufacturer to post a year-over-year sales increase in August.

When it comes to Japanese automakers, Toyota’s sales were down 34 percent, Honda was 33 percent and Nissan was down 27 percent.

– By: Omar Rana