US car sales return to the doldrums after Washington’s cash-for-clunkers deal ends

By Branko Brkic 2 October 2009

Seen from the outside, July and August US car sales could have looked like a clear sign the industry was coming out of tough times at light speed. However, the engine behind the record-setting 700,000 sales was not the economy, but rather Obama’s cash-for-clunkers programme that provided an incentive of $4,500 for each old car traded in on a new one. The logic was sound: the US car industry would get a shot in the arm with new sales, while the old, energy-inefficient cars would be replaced with modern, less-polluting versions. There was only one problem: it cost lots of money. The programme had to be shot down after $2 billion was spent in record time. With the foot off the pedal, Chrysler’s sales slumped 42% from a year ago, Toyota's 16% and Ford’s 6% last month. If there are headlights in the tunnel, it’s Ford’s announcement that sales of its F-series rose for two months running. Intriguingly this could signal an improvement in the housing market. Though generally awful, the F-series is popular with building contractors nationwide. In 2009 so far, total industry sales are down 28% on last year.

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NPA REGENESIS

As Shaun Abrahams packs his bags, Ramaphosa appoints Silas Ramaite acting NPA head

By Greg Nicolson

The filming of The Beach permanently damaged the ecosystem on the Thai island it was located on.

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