US auto sales at 1992 levels


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.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. Paul is also an invited member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such as oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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