Car sales are falling around the world to all times lows:-
From the UK
Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) reported an 18.6 per cent annual decline in sales in August, with sales to private buyers rather than the fleets down by a massive 23.6 per cent.
In a telling development, sales of sports cars and SUVs are down by even more than the average, while small cars increased their market share. Sales of Porsche cars, the City dealer's wheels of choice, are down 26.6 per cent in the year to date, a reflection of declining City bonuses and employment. By contrast, the tiny Smart car has seen its popularity more than double, up 104.6 per cent, with almost 5,000 new examples on the road so far in 2008.
From the US
Ford and General Motors dragged the domestic auto industry to its 10th straight monthly sales decline last month as consumers continued to snub trucks because of gasoline prices.
A weak U.S. economy, falling home values and gasoline prices near $4 a gallon combined to drop industrywide sales 16 percent, and analysts said they saw little prospect for relief. Hardest hit have been the pickups and sport-utility vehicles that account for most of the volume at money-losing GM, Ford and Chrysler.
"I don't think we've seen the worst," said John Casesa, managing partner of Casesa Shapiro Group in New York, in a Bloomberg television interview. "This has been a long, dismal story, and macro conditions are as bad as they get for the auto industry."
Although nearly every big automaker saw U.S. sales drop last month, many say they are seeing signs the worst slump in recent history may have bottomed out.
Most upbeat were executives from GM, which posted a 20.3 percent sales drop from a year ago but a 31 percent improvement over July's dismal totals.
Other reports from around the world show car sales collapsing in markets as diverse as Korea, Brazil, Australia, Spain, China and India.
Driven by high fuel costs and a lack of consumer confidence, it is unlikely that sales are going to recover significantly in the near future. Having just "forced through" unprecedented steel price increases on the automotive manufacturers this year, I suspect the steel manufacturers are in for some tough negotiations when the annual round of price discussions comes around later this year.