February had an extra day this year. That provided one more day for U.S. sales of new vehicles to crawl into the Dumpster.
Trucks did the damage. Car sales were off only 1.7 percent from February 2007. But sales of full-sized pickups plunged 13.5 percent, and SUVs took a real sales bath, with a loss of 23.3 percent.
The high price of gasoline played a larger role than usual in the truck famine. The toll of $3 a gallon has become an established fact, but last month most of the talk was about when the price will reach $4 — not if, but when.
Sales of Chevrolet's big Silverado pickup went into the tank, down 24.9 percent. The Dodge Ram tumbled 20.9 percent, and the Nissan Titan plunged 37.4 percent.
The Ford F series, the nation's best-selling vehicle, held its own, down only 4.9 percent.
The Toyota Tundra gained 48.9 percent in February, but the redesigned pickup was new and in short supply a year ago.
Every class of SUV suffered a major loss. Entry-level SUVs — such as the Dodge Nitro, Jeep Wrangler and Liberty and Toyota FJ Cruiser — fell 19.6 percent.
Midrange SUVs, such as the Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer and Hummer H3, dropped 24.9 percent. Sales of the big boys — such as the Chevy Suburban and Tahoe and the Ford Expedition — were 26.5 percent below last year. Premium-priced SUVs, such as the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator, gave up 5.7 percent.