January Vehicle Sales: Three Headlines You Won't See

Here are the January 2009 results (source articles - Detroit Free Press, Associated Press; December 2008 results on the right are from this USA Today report [scroll to bottom left at article]):

  • CarSales1208.jpgGeneral Motors - Down 48.9%
  • Ford - Down 40.3%
  • Chrysler - Down 54.8%
  • Toyota - Down 31.7%
  • Honda - Down 27.9%
  • Nissan - Down 29.7%
  • Relatively minor players Subaru and Hyundai posted gains (that's right) of 8% and 14%, respectively.

What follows are three reader-catching headlines you won't see:

  1. Bailed-out companies underperform the rest in January

    As you see above, everyone but Chrysler was bunched fairly close in mutual misery in December. That changed radically in January. GM plummeted to a near Chrysler-like performance, while Ford's drop from December was about half as much.

    Gee, you don't think it might be that a significant percentage of US car buyers, who also double as taxpayers, might be refusing to buy GM vehicles, and continuing to not buy Chrysler vehicles, because of the bailouts the companies received from Washington in December? Fleet sales were off at both GM and Chrysler by 80%. These buyers may also not be impressed with companies that take bailout money.

    I'm afraid that Ford's falloff compared to January might be due to the fact that press continually referred to "Detroit" and "the US auto industry" during its coverage of the GM-Chrysler bailout instead of naming the two companies involved. Even though Ford has said it doesn't anticipate needing bailout money from Uncle Sam, many Americans probably think that all three Detroit automakers received bailouts.

  2. Dismal January results threaten companies' ability to repay bailout loans at end of March

    This one explains itself. But no one in the press, beyond reporting the existence of the $13.4 billion in "loans" (the fourth paragraph at this Business Week article says it's $17.4 billion) seems interested in this angle. GM and Chrysler have to submit viability plans in two weeks.

  3. Foreign makers gain market share in January; Detroit's share well below 50%

    Last Wednesday, before results were known, Edmunds.com predicted that Detroit's Big Three would have a combined market share of "46.1 percent in January, down from 52.1 percent in January 2008 and down from 50.0 percent in December 2008." While all of the largest six companies came in with larger individual declines than Edmunds expected, Detroit's underperformance against Edmunds' predictions was collectively much larger than Toyota's, Nissan's and Honda's. The combined market share of GM, Ford, and Chrysler is probably just above 45%. Most of that decline is due to GM and Chrysler, where your tax dollars are supposedly at work.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.