December was another bad month for US auto sales, with volumes down 36% versus 2007. Total 2008 sales of 13.2 million were the lowest since 1992, when the economy bottomed in the 1990-4 recession.
As the chart shows, sales volumes dropped continuously during 2008. They were down 10% in Q1, and then Chrysler and Ford’s weakness dragged Q2 volumes lower. Q3 saw no recovery. GM then suffered a terrible October, with sales down 45%. Chrysler won the ‘wooden spoon’ award, however, with sales down 53% in December.
Overall, Chrysler’s total volumes were down 30% in 2008 versus 2007; GM were down 23%; Ford down 21% and Toyota down 16%. And for the moment, there appears no sign of recovery. In fact, weakness continues to spread around the world, with Japanese sales down 22% in December, and both Toyota and Nissan today announcing Q1 output cuts.