The cash-strapped US auto industry is in a deep crisis with car sales and consumer confidence down due to economic uncertainty. US car sales are near a 15-year low with record gasoline prices curbing demand for gas-guzzling SUVs and big trucks. All major U.S. auto manufacturers suffer from double digit decline in sales with GM sales down 18%, Ford’s sales down 28% and Chrysler sales down almost 36% compared with last year. And also car-makers from abroad struggle with falling car sales. Toyota sales are down 21%, Nissan suffers from an 18% percent decline and BMW sales are down 17%. Even some affluent buyers seem to be short of cash with Porsche’s sales down 4%.
However, there are car-makers whose car sales have risen. Volkswagen gained 0.3%, Audi’s US sales rose 5.3% compared with June 2007. Honda’s sales rose 1.1% due to the numerous fuel-efficient new models. The German car-maker Daimler whose most famous brand is Mercedes-Benz had a remarkable sales increase of 13%. Though its sales of luxury automobiles is down 0.1%, the company’s total sales jumped due to the enormous success of the fuel-efficient tow-seater Smart which was introduced in the US in January. Daimler has sold 22,121 units since June 2007, including 2,545 Smart cars. Smart sales have already surpassed production and therefore the wait list averages about a year. Daimler plans to launch an electric version of its Smart microcar in the future.