As the year winds down, sales of new cars and light trucks in the United States don't get any better. The experts who predicted an upturn in 2009 might consider some other line of work.
For the past two months, industry sales have been close to year-ago numbers. That's hardly good news; last year's sales were rotten. October deliveries were 216 below 2008; November's count was 35 above last year's.
November sales numbered 747,086. The year-to-date tally through November was 9,401,432, down 24 percent from last year. About the only favorable thing that can be said about this year's sales is that they almost certainly will top 10 million. There were times this year when that did not appear likely.
This year probably will wind up with about 10.3 million sales. That would be 22 percent fewer than in 2008.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales was 10.5 million in November, down a bit from 11.2 million in October. The year's high point was August, when sales were swollen by the cash-for-clunkers program. Clunker cash pushed the SAAR to 13.7 million for August, a rate that obviously couldn't be sustained.