Chrysler sales in the United States plunged 28.2% to 117,060 units last month as buyers shunned large pickup trucks and SUVs in favour of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The results came a day after the automaker idled a St Louis minivan plant and axed a shift at the nearby truck plant.

"The June results reflect the industry-wide impact of US consumer confidence being at its lowest point since 1992," Chrysler's co-president Jim Press said.

Ford sales fell 18.5% to 170,476 units and GM sales were off 8% to 262,411.

For the first half, Chrysler sales were down 22.3% to 864,880, GM off 16.3% to 1,589,865 and Ford down 14% to 1,128,561.

North American brand sales were down 16.3% to 549,956 in June and 17.1% to 3,583,415 for the first half.

"There is nothing in the leading economic indicators to suggest that we've reached the low point. That may still yet be in front of us," Ford sales analyst George Pipas said last night.

Total light vehicle sales in the US last month were off 8% to 1,185,435 and, year to date, down 10.1% to 7,384,180.

"We estimate that the seasonably adjusted annual sales rate was easily about 14m, but that's down nearly 1m units from the sales rates that we saw in April and May and over 1m units from the sales rate that we saw in the first quarter," said Pipas.

While the US automakers rush to ready new, more fuel-efficient models for production, some Asian brands with cars like the Honda Fit [Jazz] already available, did well in June.

Honda reportedly doubled Fit sales, set a June record for Civic volume and saw its June numbers rise 13.8% to 142,539 units. The brand  was up 4.1% in the first half to 798,358.

Kia sales rose 21.1% to 28,295 (up 2.1% to 157,619 YTD) while Hyundai was up 14% to 50,033 (off 2.3% to 231,066 YTD).

Ford affiliate Mazda boosted June sales 3.8% to 23,771 (0.3%, 153,141 YTD) and Subaru was up 18.4% to 18,007 (4.4%, 94,095).

But Toyota sales last month fell 11.5% to 193,234 (-6.8%, 1,240,086 YTD) and Mitsubishi volume was down 35.2% to 7,494 (-23.4%, 53,883).

Toyota cannot meet demand for some fuel-sipping models such as the Yaris and the hybrid Prius. An Illinois dealer last night told NBC that the Prius waiting list was six to eight months long.

"As the pendulum swings towards smaller, higher-mileage vehicles, we're well-poised to offer the right products at the right time," said Toyota Motor Sales president Jim Lentz. "A five-door liftback will soon join the Yaris line-up, widening the choice for value-conscious consumers in challenging economic times."

Nissan volume was down 7.5% to 75,854 (-2.4%, 522,382 YTD).

Overall, the Asian brands' sales were down 0.8% last month to 553,125 and off 2.8% in the first half to 3,336,445.

Amongst the Europeans, Daimler sales last month rose 27.1% to 22,138 (+10.6%, 130,774 YTD) and Volkswagen posted a 14.3% hike to 31,411 (YTD flat at 160,547). Porsche sales fell 8.7% in June to 2,650 (which the automaker attributed to the 911 model update) and were off 15.5% to 15,086 for the first half.

Total car sales last month rose 3.5% to 664,397 (-1.6%, 3,866,628 YTD) while trucks were down 19.5% to 521,038 (-18%, 3,517,552 YTD).

Despite the turn way from trucks, Ford's F-series remained the best selling single model line in the US in the first half, selling 274,713 units. It was followed by the Toyota Camry (239,881), Chevrolet Silverado (231,320), Honda Civic (204,961) and Toyota Corolla (194,488).