Auto Industry on the Mend After a Rough Year

Many analysts are expecting the United States auto industry to report flat sales numbers for November compared to a year ago. This could mean that the situation is improving after a four-year economic slump that left automakers facing plummeting sales and massive restructuring.

Even though the sales numbers may not show any significant drop over last year, nationwide job losses and a lack of consumer confidence could mean slow going when it comes to U.S. financial recovery.

November 2008 sales totaled 10.4 million units on the annualized rate. October 2009 sales were 10.5 million units, and this past November’s total is expected to be around 10.5 million units as well. The prediction is based on Reuter’s median forecast based on 36 analysts surveyed.

However, General Motors Co. U.S. sales analyst Mike DiGiovannni says that industry sales may be over 11 million units at an annualized rate in November. He also states that he finds encouraging signs that the U.S. economy is making a comeback. His number also includes medium-sized as well as heavy duty trucks, which may account for up to 300,000 of the annualized rate.

DiGiovanni said, “Obviously, this isn’t a perfectly linear trend. There are some setbacks in some areas.” He noted the rising unemployment numbers as well as a slowdown in single family housing starts in October.

He also stated, “Overall, we feel pretty confident that the economy is on its way back.”

Historically, the auto industry has served as a barometer of sorts, gauging the level of U.S. consumer demand. Since mid-2005, however, the automotive sector has trailed behind other categories in spending.

Light vehicle sales dropped over 25% through October. This year is expected to end at the lowest level since the 1980’s at about 10.5 million units. In comparison, sales for 2007 totaled 16.1 million units.

The forecasts are mixed for next year; some say there will be a slight rebound in sales totaling between 11 and 12 million units, and some say next year won’t show any improvement over this year at all.

According to, there will be a drop in sales for Toyota, Honda and Nissan. They are predicting a 26% increase for Hyundai. They also see Ford as remaining flat with declining sales for both Chrysler and GM.

While predicts only a 1% decline for GM, it sees a 35% decline for Chrysler in 2009. Both companies are pulling out all the stops to turn around what has been a very trying 2009.

Posted in In the News

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