Vehicle sales reports for December are starting to trickle in, and the results are generally in line with expectations. The majority of manufacturers will record double-digit declines for the month — and year.
Already, Ford announced a 32% decline for December and 21% for the full year.
Sure, the news will get worse before it gets better, but there is a silver lining in all this. You see, throughout 2008, industry executives revised and re-revised their sales targets because of record-high gas prices, plunging consumer confidence, soaring unemployment, and a handful of other factors. The year started out on a 12-million-unit-SAAR trajectory; it ended at about a nine-million-unit pace.
But with 2008 behind us, we actually have some direction. We can isolate the overall year-over-year sales decline (probably about 20%) — and move forward. Estimates for 2009 vehicle sales are in the 10-million-unit range. It’s a far cry from the 16-million mark of 2007, but it seems like a realistic starting point — one from which we will continue to grow.