Only one automaker has sold more cars in '08 than it did in '07, according to the L.A. Times; that manufacturer is Subaru, winner of Motor Trend's 2009 SUV of the Year award with its new 2009 Forester small SUV. But even Subaru is reducing spending, as are all automakers, bracing for tough times ahead and an '09 market that many analysts are predicting will only get tougher.
Detroit automakers have responded by cutting jobs, cutting shifts, and reducing spending wherever possible, like the huge publicity budgets that include auto shows. GM also pulled Super Bowl advertising not so long ago, and is working overtime to eliminate its massive cash burn that amounted to nearly $7 billion in the third quarter of 2008 alone. The ripple effect is profound--managers of the biggest American auto shows in L.A., Chicago, Detroit, and New York report reduced involvement and participation from major manufacturers. This, in turn, hurts ticket sales for the event, and only hints at the impact that an auto industry downturn will have on Main Street and the American economy in general.--Colin Mathews