J.D. Power and Associates, the influential industry tracking firm, warned that the global auto market may "outright collapse" due to the lack of available credit and the general global economic conditions in 2009. According to the company, credit market restructuring, fewer leasing options, and declining owner equity are adding additional stress to an already burdened market. Don't turn to the automotive markets in China, Europe, or India either -- they are expected to slow next year as well. Much of the domestic sales decline is attributed to consumers delaying vehicle purchases (their studies indicate people are keeping their vehicles four months longer in 2008, compared to 2007). Other contributing factors are the drop in leasing activity, and the loss of fleet sales (down to 2.8 million from 3.3 million last year). While the automotive sales decline over the summer made this a buyer's market, willing consumers who venture into showrooms today are finding dealerships eager to sell, but banks aversive about lending.

[Source: Automotive News, subs. req'd]

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