• Feb 4, 2009
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]


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  • 18 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I agree. Maybe it's a new age where people are more logical and instead of doing 2-yr leases of vehicles they can barely afford, they will start buying and keeping what they cab afford for 6-7 years. My Mazda3 is 3 years old and it's feels/looks brand new.

        • 5 Years Ago
        My brand new car is 3 months old and it feels like it's 7 years old...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Given the fact that we have built way too many cars for the need and that the USA has bought even more cars than it really needs, and that today's cars last so much longer why is it such an amazing reality that people, when they are no longer feeling real spiffy about the economy don't need to buy a car right now. This applies to our family and everyone I personally know. So let up on the econ slow down already!!! You are only going to make things worse. So take a chill pill and let the car supply get used up then we can reset. In the mean time things are going to be a bit tight...its called capitalism...it can't all be on the upside.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Part of the reason that americans buy way more cars that we need(seriously there are 5 cars in my small driveway and two are mostly disused) is because the country went car crazy in the 50s. Public transportation was torn down in favor of cars, people watched movies in cars, people ate in their cars, and then they started building suburbs around the car. So now we have clusters of houses that are miles away from anything that those people would need to get to.

        Our displaced communities make the car necessary to American living. There are people in smaller towns of europe and japan who can chose not to own a car at all if they wanted(much like people in major cities in the US) because their towns are built with an infrastructure that allows for mass transit.
        • 5 Years Ago
        i'm with stupd...::head nod::

        (by the way, that shot is gorgeous)
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's not going to take very long..............."right now"................ more cars are being scraped than are being produced..............people are not going to give up their cars, we love em, we love em, we love em.............................
        Mopar Marc
        • 5 Years Ago
        If GM would build that 60's model Vette with modern drivetrain and brakes, they may see sales increase
      • 5 Years Ago
      So what if China sells more cars than the U.S. It has four times the population and a huge unmet demand for people that never had a car before, while in the U.S, we have more cars than there are licensed drivers.

      People will still need to buy cars as their leases expire. I wonder what the statistics on used cars are? I would like to know if people getting off their 36 month Camcord lease are buying a used car rather than lease a brand new Camcord.

      Also, people are reaching the limits of their exuberant shopping spree of recent years. C'mon, how many soccer-moms can afford loaded 40K Siennas, Odysseys or Tahoes?

      How many average national wage workers can afford to buy in 60 months an Accord at an average price of 27K?

      People are downsizing in this economy: The Accord guy is getting a Civic, the Civic guy a Fit or they are buying used or keeping the car longer. Cars are much better built than before and if you don't have a luxury car with expensive suspension and other gizmos, the upkeep of an Accord or Camry over 10 years is not that big.

      Eventually demand will come back as the average age of cars creep up and they need to be replaced and lower sales today will dictate higher used prices in the future (less supply). With the rental fleets getting slashed, supply of these cars will get curtailed even further. Demand will pick-up again, the Big 2.5 just need to survive until then.
        • 5 Years Ago
        quote from Richard S.: -

        "How many average national wage workers can afford to buy in 60 months an Accord at an average price of 27K?" -

        I'm not sure if you just threw out a number or if you have statistics to back it up, but I'm pretty sure the average price of a Camcord bought these days is much lower than $27K. $27K represents nearly the base price of an Accord EX-V6 which is just below the top of the line EX-L V6. I hardly think that signifies the average.

        If you're figures are correct(which I highly doubt), Honda is selling an awfully large number of high-end Accords at the expense of the lower-end models with 4cyl. engines. Somehow, I doubt that's the case.

        The base price of an Accord(sedan) is $20,905. I'm sure the average price is going to be closer the $22-24K than $27K.

        Sure, it may only be a few thousand but I guarantee, the number who can afford a $21-23K car is much higher than those who can afford a $27K car.

        In closing, it's not that I disagree completely with your statement, but you present a false argument assuming that those buyers will only be looking at higher-priced models. You also did the same with the mention of $40K Siennas, Odysseys, and Tahoes. Those(2 of the 3 anyhow) also represent the higher-end models which do not make up the bulk of sales. The Odyssey and Sienna each have much lower-priced variants which would satisfy the needs of a potential buyer just as well. The Tahoe does indeed start at almost $38K, but their sales are off quite a bit currently.

        caveat: I used Accord figures only in this case, but the Camry tends to be priced very similarly though I did not double-check.
      • 5 Years Ago
      China has few more inhabitants than the US, right? Maybe it outsold the US a year earlier, but we had it comming. It was a proverbial WHEN not IF question.
        • 5 Years Ago
        China doesn't have the transport infrastructure, so outselling the US at this time is a pretty major achievement.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No kidding. The first thing I thought when I was reading this was "Uh... duh? China has about four times as many people."
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is a sign that an economy based on services and not manufacturing cannot maintain a high standard of living. Manufacturing jobs pay better and you need to export more than you import to bring money into an economy. I always say, "You can't export haircuts and carwashes."

      UH2L.com
        • 5 Years Ago
        Your single statement is one of the most intellegent, well thought out paragraphs I've read on auto blog in a very long time. Please post those exact same words on every post. Congradulations.
        This country will not survive as the world economic power until people start getting your message.

        If you run for President, you've got my vote.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You should go to China some time. These manufacturing jobs are not glamorous. You're right they're exporting and adding to the national wealth, but they're getting paid peanuts for it.

        Besides, if there were more cars sold in China last month, it won't last. Manufacturing has been hit HARD in China, and the middle managers in these plants that were looking at buying cars are likely now just hoping to get by.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah Andy. Mercantilsim. Because we didn't get where we are today through mercantilism.

        Capitalism doesn't *fail* -- we just need to redefine what "fail" means. Print some more money: pay off investors with new money from new investors! That's what capitalism is all about!
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're advocating mercantilism - it doesn't work, and that's the worst thing we can do right now.
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