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Published: Friday, 10/2/2009

U.S. auto sales plummet 23%


DETROIT - General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp., and Ford Motor Co. said sales fell in September as waning demand after the "cash for clunkers" rebates cut industry deliveries to the second-slowest rate this year.

GM deliveries tumbled 45 percent while Toyota dropped 13 percent, both worse than analysts had estimated. Ford slid 5.1 percent; Chrysler Group LLC, 42 percent; Honda Motor Co.,' 7 percent, and Nissan Motor Co.'s 23 percent.

Hyundai Motor Co. was the sole winner among big carmakers, reporting a 27 percent rise in sales from a year earlier.

U.S. auto sales plunged 23 percent, and the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate fell to 9.22 million units, said industry researcher Autodata Corp. of Woodcliff Lake, N.J. July and August were the only months in 2009 when the sales pace topped 10 million, a level that Ford and researcher J.D. Power & Associates expect the United States to surpass for

the year.

Sales of Toledo-made SUVs continued to slide - Jeep Wrangler sales were down 2 percent from a year ago to 6,002 units; Jeep Liberty sales were off 45 percent to 2,715 units, and Dodge Nitro sales fell 55 percent to 1,135 units.

Still, the depleted inventory nationwide for the three vehicles has meant substantial orders for the 2010 models. Union officials at Toledo Jeep Assembly complex said they have dealer orders for more than 41,000 vehicles.

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