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Sales Fell In August For Carmakers - U.s.

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Automakers last month felt the downside of the “cash for clunkers” program, as their sales fell significantly from the government-induced surge a year ago.

Sales were down 34 percent at Toyota, 33 percent at Honda and 25 percent at General Motors. The Ford Motor Company and Hyundai each said their sales fell 11 percent.

Chrysler, which did not get much benefit from the clunkers program in August 2009, said sales rose 7 percent.

Last month was expected to be the worst August in recent memory, with overall sales projected to fall slightly from July, renewing concerns about the strength of the economic recovery. But G.M. officials said they remained confident that sales would increase in the final months of the year.

“We still see a low risk of any double-dip recession unless there’s some unforeseen shock to the system,” Don Johnson, G.M.’s vice president for United States sales operations, said on a conference call. “We still think it’s going to be a modest recovery. We know it’s going to be a little bit bumpy.”

The decrease was worse than expected for Toyota, whose reputation has taken a beating this year amid 15 separate recalls, including 2 related to thousands of reports that its vehicles were accelerating out of drivers’ control.

Toyota got the biggest lift from last year’s rebate program, but such a precipitous drop indicates continued trouble for the Japanese carmaker, said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Edmunds.com, a Web site that provides car-buying information.

“Toyota still is suffering a hangover from its numerous recalls this year,” Ms. Krebs said. “It is taking a long time for Toyota to get back to ‘business as usual.’ ”

Got to love the GM guy ramping his company to the hilt, consumers losing their jobs but hey they'll still buy a car, sales to recover then?

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