Car firms driven to despair

US car sales fell sharply last month, in the latest sign that the continuing problems in the financial sector are starting to hit the general economy.

Led by a 37% decline at Nissan, all the main companies saw sales fall in September compared with the same month a year earlier.

Sales declined by 34% at Ford, 33% at Chrysler, 32% at Toyota and 24% at Honda during the month.

General Motors faired slightly better. Its sales fell 16% after it cut prices.

Overall industry-wide car sales declined 26%.

Analysts blamed the downturn to the turmoil in the financial sector.

“It was tantamount to a natural disaster,” said Ford sales analyst George Pipas.

Car industry analyst Erich Merkel said the figures showed that the US was now in recession.

US sales of luxury German brands also fell last month.

Sales of Mercedes-Benz lost 16%, BMW fell 30%, and Porsche declined 45%.