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Nov. auto sales sink to worst level since 1982

December 3, 2008

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U.S. auto sales plunged 37 percent in November to their worst level in more than 26 years, dashing expectations that this dismal year for vehicle demand had found a bottom, and adding more ammunition to the Detroit automakers’ case for a congressional lifeline.

U.S. auto sales in November fell to 746,789, according to Autodata Corp. On a seasonally adjusted basis, automakers reported an annual sales rate of 10.2 million units, the lowest level since October 1982.

Automakers and analysts blamed the crumbling economy, less access to vehicle financing, and a wait-and-see approach among consumers more preoccupied with the value of their homes and the fate of their jobs than the lure of a new car.

Every major automaker reported a year-over-year sales decline of more than 30 percent when they released their results Tuesday. The Detroit carmakers were among the worst hit, with GM’s U.S. sales falling 41 percent and Chrysler LLC’s dropping 47 percent.

Their overseas rivals posted abysmal results as well. Toyota’s sales tumbled 34 percent, while Nissan’s dropped 42 percent and Honda’s fell 32 percent.

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