Remember that second-half sales upturn that automakers and analysts were forecasting a year ago? Instead, we got a train wreck of a second half and the biggest one-year plunge in U.S. sales since 1974. Who knew? Who even suspected?
Exactly no one predicted the devastation of 2008, which makes trying to divine 2009 seem all the more futile.
Looking at last year's numbers is like sifting through debris. After nine straight years of at least 16 million U.S. sales, light-vehicle sales in 2008 fell 18.0 percent to 13.2 million — a decline of almost 3 million units.
Second-half sales plummeted 26.2 percent, and the fourth quarter was down 34.7 percent.