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23 June 2017 15:50 (South Africa)

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

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

chrysler

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.

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

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