DETROIT - Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales plunged 19.1 percent in July from a year earlier, the company said Wednesday, as high gas prices and reluctant consumers made it a challenging month for the industry.
Ford's sales were down 12 percent for the year. The company said one bright spot was sales of crossover vehicles, which were up 40 percent for the month thanks to new entries like the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX.
DaimlerChrysler AG said its U.S. sales fell 9.1 percent in July. Chrysler Group said sales were down 8.4 percent for the month, while Mercedes-Benz said U.S. sales fell 13.9 percent from the same month a year ago.
Erich Merkle, vice president of forecasting for auto consulting company IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids, said with high gas prices and rising rates on adjustable mortgages and home equity loans, consumers simply have less money to buy cars.
"You've got a consumer right now that's really being stretched," Merkle said. "In many cases debt levels are incredibly high to the point where you're seeing a lot of foreclosures."
The Associated Press reports unadjusted figures, calculating the percentage change in the total number of vehicles sold in one month compared with the same month a year earlier. Some automakers report percentages adjusted for sales days. There were 24 sales days last month and 25 in July 2006.
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