While the US auto market was down 41 percent for the month, Ford sales were down 48 percent and Chrysler's 44 percent. At current sales levels, GM and Chrysler could face a collapse within months.

February auto sales in the US fell by 41 percent compared to the same period last year. For GM it was 53 percent, Ford 48 percent and Chrysler 44.

With sales down dramatically over the last several months, the two Detroit automakers currently benefiting from government aid, GM and Chrysler, are at a level that is unsustainable and that could spell bankruptcy for one or both of them in the coming months, regardless of the billions in bailout loans they have received.

February sales have been the worst so far and no one knows where the bottom is in this decline.

GM's chief sales analyst, Michael C. DiGiovanni, admits that the numbers are very troubling news for the automaker. "The February numbers are clearly a step down from where we have been running the last four months. These are obviously unsustainable levels," he is quoted as saying in the New York Times story.

Emily Kolinski Morris, a senior economist at Ford, says that the February sales figures are a sign that things might get worse before they get better. The sales numbers imply "that we did not reach the bottom," she told the Times.

All automakers have been hit by the February slump. Toyota sales were down 40 percent, 38 for Honda and 37 for Nissan, the 3 largest import brands in the US.

Although sales have been down sharply since last fall, figures were relatively flat until an even more drastic drop last month. At current sales levels, both GM and Chrysler will not survive the year.


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