When you need to reach 46 years into America's past to find comparable auto industry numbers, it's all right to start thinking "Maybe this is pretty serious..." Various estimates of January 2009 U.S. car sales hover around 660,000. According to General Motors executive Mike DiGiovanni, that's "the lowest January in terms of unit sales since 1963."

A year ago, in January 2008, there were a little more than a million cars sold in the U.S. In view this year's decline, it's no wonder more cars were sold in China than in the U.S. last month. If GM's stab at preliminary numbers holds up (DiGiovanni puts Chinese sales at 790,000) – it would be the first time ever that China's car market has outsold America's. We'll know the official results when Chinese sales figures become available.

[Source: Auto News, sub req'd]