US car sales plunge in March
But automakers are encouraged by a recent increase in showroom traffic.
Automakers insist they see signs of life in the marketplace. But March was another dismal month for US car sales, as consumers clung to their old vehicles in the face of America’s economic woes.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
These results weren’t exactly a surprise, considering that the Big Three are mired in a historic slump. But still, the poor showing might:
• Increase pressure on GM bondholders, as well as the United Auto Workers, to make concessions to keep GM out of bankruptcy.
• Give Chrysler a further shove toward an alliance with Fiat.
• Get Congress to seriously consider a government-sponsored “cash for clunkers” incentive program meant to break the industry’s downward spiral.
Whatever mistakes the traditional US auto industry has made in the past, it is the terrible economy that has made its current crisis so acute.
In a presentation Wednesday of monthly sales figures, US auto executives said they had some hope that the industry had finally hit bottom and that an uptick in business may be in sight.
Showroom traffic picked up last weekend, they said. GM and Chrysler officials were particularly relieved about President Obama’s declaration that the US will back warranties for their firms.