If you try hard, you might be able to find a bright spot in the August U.S. sales report. Aside from Nissan North America, Subaru of America and BMW's Mini, it won't be easy.
Nissan-Infiniti sales topped last August's by 13.6 percent. Mini posted an astounding year-over-year increase of 34.1 percent. Subaru was up 14.2 percent.
And you'd have to include American Honda Motor Co.; its August sales were fair. Since Chrysler LLC's sales were miserable, though, American Honda moved up to fourth place in the year-to-date ranking. It trails General Motors, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. and Ford Motor Co. Chrysler LLC is fifth.
Elsewhere, though, August offered more of the same gloom and doom that has stained the U.S. auto industry all this year.
August sales of new cars and light trucks totaled a puny 1,249,976 vehicles, down 15.5 percent from August 2007. For the first eight months of the year, the count was 9,800,814 units, 11.2 percent below 2007.
The industry considers 1.5 million sales an excellent month. In August 2007, sales were only a hair below that. But this year's deliveries fell 16.7 percent short of entering the charmed circle. The August sales tally was the lowest since 1998.
Automakers, desperately grabbing at any straw, noted that August sales were 10 percent higher than July's. But that's not unusual: August sales have exceeded the previous month's sales 10 times in the past 20 years.
The seasonally adjusted selling rate was 13.9 million vehicles last month, up a shade from 12.8 million in July.