So what would you expect of auto sales with $4-a-gallon gasoline, the Wall Street flameout and the real estate disaster?
And — oh, yes — the credit crisis. If you can't get a loan, you can't buy a car. Soon, you may see a finance ad: "Come to us for a loan. We dare you!"
U.S. sales of new cars and light trucks ran true to form in September: They collapsed. Deliveries plunged to 965,160, down 26.6 percent from last year. It was the first time since February 1993 that sales had failed to reach 1 million units. That's 187 months.
And the immediate future seems no brighter. Nor does 2009.
Not one of the 36 major brands showed a gain in September.
Audi did the best with sales off just 5.4 percent.
The low-volume Hummer brand, which General Motors is trying to unload, wore the futility crown with a decline of 54.8 percent. Seventeen major brands fell more than 30 percent from September 2007.
The corporations fared just as poorly. GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC were down. So were the Japanese Big 3: Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., American Honda Motor Co. and Nissan North America. Likewise for all the other corporate combos: Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Hyundai-Kia.