Projections for 2009 are bleak. The bailouts were only short-term relief. And they came with strings attached. And loans payments have to start sometime. GM, Ford, and Chrysler are fighting to somehow become viable companies. Trimming employees is Job 1. According to the Associated Press, GM today announced it is buying out 22,000 hourly workers with a package that includes $20,000 cash and a $25,000 auto voucher. GM's hourly workers have until March 24, 2009 to accept, and will be out of work by April 1, 2009. GM's stock is down slightly, trading today at $2.66.
In other news, The General announced today that its overall car and truck sales for January 2009 versus January 2008 were down 49%. Yes, 49%. So basically, GM sold half the number of cars this January than they did last January, which, I'm sure wasn't a banner month in its own right.
Meanwhile, predictions in the industry have been made that 2009 sales in the US will not top 10 million units. This would be the worst automotive year since 1982.
Is it Back to the Future time for the auto industry? To those glorious days of the cars of 1982? When horsepower figures were shamefully hidden in footnotes in auto literature, V8s were scarce, leather was just as rare, and cars went from A to B. Could it be?
Who knows. As bad as 2008 was, I'm afraid we may look back on it fondly. And that scares me a lot too.