The first quarter of 2009 is history, and we can all pause for a moment and utter a fervent "good riddance." But we can't escape the sales numbers, so let's take a final look.
Was there anything good about the first three months of 2009? Since we're grasping at straws, let's note that March was better than February, which was better than January. But that has happened every year since 1991. Aside from that, the quarter was a bummer.
The three-month sales total declined 38.4 percent from the first quarter of 2008, which was down 8.0 percent from 2007. The Detroit 3's domestic sales fell an astounding 46.2 percent. Import brand sales were down 30.6 percent — not as bad as Detroit's, but not good.
Each of the Detroit 3 was down more than 44 percent for the quarter. Each of Japan's Big 3 tumbled at least 34 percent. Japan's Big 3 are Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., American Honda Motor Co. and Nissan North America.
General Motors was the sickest of the sick in the first quarter, down 48.8 percent. Toyota Motor Sales led the Japanese in futility with a loss of 37.1 percent.
The Detroit 3 still haven't returned to the car business. They sold only 345,755 cars in three months, down 49.4 percent from 2008. Even more distressing, Detroit had only 30.2 percent of the nation's car sales in January, February and March. Bad things happen when you ignore cars for a decade and a half, as GM, Ford and Chrysler did.
Market share? You don't want to know. The Detroit 3 had only 43.8 percent of U.S. car and light-truck sales in the first quarter. That means 56.2 percent of the market is controlled by foreign companies.
Had enough? So have I. Let's look at something else.