Early December figures point to Blue Christmas for automakers

The month is barely half over, but word on December’s early auto sales are filtering in, and it won’t fill most automakers with tidings of good cheer.

Overall, according to the Associated Press, year-over-year sales were down 14 percent in the first 11 days of December, with only BMW avoiding a decline. This, despite automakers throwing every carrot in the patch at would-be consumers, including free gasoline, complementary extended warranties, and cash on the hood. Industry analysts point to a particularly strong month last year and the ‘pull-forward’ effect on sales stemming from this summer’s employee-pricing bonanza among domestics as reasons for the decline. 

In terms of outright market share, the Big Two plus Chrysler’s fortunes have slipped 3.5 percent (to 50.1 percent) versus last year, and interestingly enough, even Comeback Kid Hyundai took a beating. Japanese manufacturers Honda and Toyota picked up the slack, increasing almost 3 percent.

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