A woeful sales environment and the financial struggles of General Motors and Chrysler will set the auto sales hierarchy on end in 2009. At least that's how IHS Global Insight sees things. The industry analysts at IHS Global Insight see Ford passing GM as the top manufacturer in terms of production for 2009, with 1.9 million North American units at the Blue Oval compared to 1.7 million for GM. The upside-down nature of the IHS rankings continues with Honda placing third with 1.1 million units, followed by Toyota at 904,000 units and Chrysler at number five with 903,000.

IHS is predicting industry-wide sales to come in around 8.4 million units, adjusted downward by 156,000 units from last month. A reason for the cut in outlook could be slower than expected early May sales, a month that typically sees stronger sales than most. IHS predicts that industry sales will continue to lag behind those of past years significantly, with the earliest time frame for an uptick being the end of summer. Industry-wide sales in North America are down 37.8% through April. Hat tip to Thomas!

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd | Image: Larry W. Smith/Getty]