Car sales being driven off a cliff

Global car sales have been driven to their lowest level for decades, with Detroit in the US the worst hit as Chrysler sees sales plunge by 47% and GM by 41%.

As US sales in November fell to 746,789, it was much the same story for their Japanese arch-rivals, with Toyota down 34%, Nissan 42% and Honda 32%.

Said Mike DiGiovanni, GM's executive director of global market and industry analysis: "We are in a much more severe situation than the rest of the economy. If we go on like this, the entire industry is going to go down."

Jesse Toprak, US executive director of industry analysis for car buying guide Edmunds.com, said: "Consumers are not showing up at the dealerships, regardless of the deals they're being offered and how low the gas prices go."

The figures emerged on the same day that the US Big Three - GM, Chrysler and Ford - were asking Congress for billions of dollars in emergency loans.

GM needs $4 billion (£2.7 billion) this month and a total of $12 billion (£8.1 billion) by late March, Chrysler wants $7 billion (£4.7 billion) by the end of the year and Ford has asked for a $9 billion (£6.1 billion) standby line of credit.

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