A little relief for U.S. automakers

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SCOTT JAGOW: Falling gas prices gave U.S. carmakers a tiny boost last month. They sold more pickups and SUVs. Overall, sales were up about two percent compared to September of 2005, but Detroit is still getting trounced by big bad Toyota. Here's Hillary Wicai:


HILLARY WICAI: Toyota sold 25% more vehicles last month than it did in September last year.

GM and DaimlerChrysler continued to slip a bit, but Ford saw a sales gain of nearly 5% over 2005.

Consumers didn't race back to SUVs and trucks, but sales of the bigger vehicles did bump up a smidge from a year ago after months of dropping.

David Cole chairs the Center for Automotive Research. He says today's numbers give Ford just the tiniest amount of breathing room.

DAVID COLE: The combination of lower fuel prices, really high incentives and some pent up demand for larger vehicles, has I think prompted somewhat of an increase in sales. Does this mean this is a mega trend? No, but I think it gives hope that we're going to see a little more balance in the auto market.

Overall, automakers sold more than a million cars and trucks in the U.S. last month, up from September last year, when sales were off following Hurricane Katrina.

In Washington, I'm Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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