At a recent auto summit held by Reuters, three big-time industry investors painted a bleak picture of U.S. auto sales for 2008. One expects sales to plunge to the lowest total in 15 years.
Jerry York, adviser to billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian: 15.5 million units or fewer, down from about 16.1 million this year. "I'm just not sure how bad it could be."
Thomas Stallkamp, former Chrysler president and a key player at the private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings: "I'd say it's somewhere between 14.5 and 15. ... I'm a little more towards 14.5." That would be the lowest total since 1993.
Wilbur Ross, who has assembled an auto parts empire through acquisitions: A drop of a few hundred thousand units next year. The U.S. consumer is "pretty well tapped out," he said.
None of the three predicted a recession for the U.S. economy in 2008. But York said, "It feels like it's on the way."