Those who had hoped U.S. auto sales would keep a solid pulse after the cash-for-clunkers bonanza got a rude reality check last week.
Sales crashed for most automakers and their dealers in September.
Deliveries of 746,206 vehicles were down 23 percent from September 2008. A more meaningful comparison is with August of this year when clunker cash produced a pretty good month. September sales were down 41 percent from the August total.
September's total was the lowest since February.
The year-to-date total was equally miserable: 7,816,829, off 27 percent from last year.
The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate was 9.5 million. Clunker cash boosted it to 13.7 million in August. The rate has been in the 9 million range in seven of this year's nine months.