Signs Of A Rebound, Yet The Worst Auto Market Since The 1950s

September 2, 2010
Some of the phrases used in headlines this week, to describe August auto sales, have been brutal: "sales slowing to a crawl," "taking a tumble," or "struggling along" were just a few.  

But they're pretty appropriate. "We saw the worst August in 28 years," looking at sales altogether, assessed Jesse Toprak, VP of industry trends at the pricing intelligence firm TrueCar.

Though the luxury-car market performed reasonably well, it wasn't enough to turn the story around. Honda sales were down 30 percent, while Nissan was down 27 percent and Hyundai posted 11-percent lower sales, all compared to last August. Even Subaru saw sales slip more than seven percent, while Toyota's sales were down by more than a third versus last August, and down 12 percent from July.

Overall, according to Toprak, when adjusted for the size of the motoring population, it's the worst August since the 1950s.

Shouldn't the 'Cash for Clunkers' hangover be over?

It wasn't at all surprising that sales were down versus last year—nearly everyone in the industry expected them to be, because of the rush surrounding last year's Cash for Clunkers program, which offered a rebate of up to $4,500 toward the purchase of certain fuel-efficient vehicles and trade-in of certain less fuel-efficient ones.  
We're over the Cash for Clunkers hangover, and there's supposedly a slow recovery afoot. But even analysts are surprised at how bad it is. "We expected the entire summer to be a little bit stronger than it is," said Jeffrey Schuster, director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates. "We're still recovering."

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