Chrysler U.S. Sales Drop 33%

The automaker launched a new incentive program offering customers up to $6,000 in cash back on some purchases, or zero percent interest rates.

Chrysler has begun to offer better terms to customers as sales dropped 33% in September amid a broad economic slowdown, the company announced on Oct. 2. The automaker launched a new incentive program offering customers up to $6,000 in cash back on some purchases, or zero percent interest rates.

"The economy is going through a difficult restructuring, resulting in great uncertainty among consumers," said Jim Press, vice chairman and president of Chrysler LLC. "We are committed to supporting our customers with significant savings and innovative financing, and our dealers with new business solutions," he said. "Longer term, we all need to be investing in building a healthier automobile industry and be ready to compete when the economy strengthens."

Chrysler's sales slipped to 107,349 in September as customers shied away from big-ticket purchases as news of bank failures and a stock market meltdown increased economic uncertainty.

To make matters worse, some of those who did visit showrooms had problems getting auto loans amid a credit crunch.

Chrysler has also been hit by a shift away from its gasoline guzzling trucks and sport utility vehicles amid high fuel costs and year-to-date sales were down 25% to 1.2 million vehicles. Truck sales were down 34% in September at 76,250, and 27% in the first nine months of the year at 843,418 million vehicles.

Car sales were down 29% in September at 31,099 units, and 21% for the year so far at 340,101.

Chrysler has eliminated 200 dealerships so far this year amid a broad restructuring program aimed at shrinking the company, which has been hard-hit by competition from Asian automakers.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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