Lousy economic conditions are leading many consumers to postpone car purchases. Lower levels of industry sales will increase the bleeding at GM and Chrysler.
One factor I have not seen mentioned much in any of the bailout discussions is whether we might see a reversal of the long-term trend of an increasing number of cars per license-holder in the US. There are a lot of two and three car households in the US that might figure out how to make do with fewer when replacement time rolls around.
Ford Motor Co.’s U.S. sales tumbled 48 percent in February, Toyota Motor Corp.’s declined 40 percent and Nissan Motor Co.’s slid 37 percent as unemployment rose and consumer confidence weakened.
The figures may herald monthly sales that were the lowest for the industry in almost 27 years. Seven analysts in a Bloomberg survey estimated declines averaging 45 percent for General Motors Corp. and 50 percent for Chrysler LLC. Honda Motor Co. may post a 32 percent slide, based on three analysts…
“At this point, it’s not as much credit as it is a consumer confidence issue,” Al Castignetti, Nissan’s vice president of U.S. sales, said in an interview. “Even if you can afford the loan, people are not willing to take on the risk right now because of concern about jobs.”…
Automakers may report today that new vehicles sold at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 9.5 million cars and light trucks, according to the average estimate of 27 analysts and economists surveyed by Bloomberg. That rate would be the lowest since June 1982, when the U.S. had less than three-fourths as many licensed drivers.