Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chrysler sees low U.S. June auto sales

Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:05pm EDT
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DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler LLC Chief Executive Bob Nardelli has told employees that industry-wide U.S. sales in June were expected to fall to the lowest level in 16 years.

U.S. light-vehicle sales are predicted to fall to an annual rate of 12.5 million vehicles in June, Nardelli told employees in a company-wide memo sent on Tuesday, citing forecasts from J.D. Power and Associates and Citigroup.

"This is the lowest sales level in 16 years and indicates a significant and continued softening of the U.S. automotive market," he said in the memo, which was first reported by the Detroit Free Press.

Nardelli said a number of economic factors continue to weigh on auto sales, including the weak U.S. housing market.

A spokeswoman for privately held Chrysler declined to comment on the memo.

Cautious forecasts for June U.S. auto sales and uncertainty about when the U.S. auto industry will hit bottom drove down shares of automakers General Motors Corp (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), parts suppliers and auto retailers on Wednesday.

Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache cut his industry-wide U.S. auto sales outlook for 2009 to about 15 million vehicles, and expects sales in 2010 to come in at 16 million vehicles.

There was evidence that June sales were falling to "surprisingly low levels," he said in a note to clients.

Chrysler's U.S. sales have fallen 19 percent this year as it struggled with a product line-up that relies more on trucks and SUVs than its larger rivals at a time when more Americans are looking to buy smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Continued...

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