December 2008 was one of the worst months in recent history for automakers. Chrysler saw U.S. sales decline by over 50%, while GM, Toyota, Honda, and Ford all saw substantial decreases.
2008 was the worst year for American auto sales since 1993, with December tallies down substantially compared to one year earlier. Chrysler took the biggest hit, dropping by more than 50 percent.
Almost nobody was spared the carnage, as GM, Toyota, Honda, and Ford all tumbled by more than 30 percent. Subaru fared much better than the others, with sales slumping by 8 points lower than last year.
The news has many dealerships across America rethinking their business model. With the U.S. economy where it is, many retailers believe used car sales is the most sustainable direction. Bill Chaffin, a representative from a dealership in Albany, Georgia, told a television station there, "The used car is going to be where the money is made at. I don't think it's going to be with the new cars."
Chaffin, the General Manager of Albany Lincoln Mercury, continued with, "The car business is bad ... all of us are off 30, 40 percent and it's a struggle in this business today."
As the auto industry bailout is expanding to include more available financing for prospective new-car purchasers, some are hopeful for a turnaround. Many dealerships began complaining in 2008 about having to turn potential customers away.
Creativity may also be the key to getting new customers in the door. As more and more people in the States are under the threat of layoffs, Hyundai has created a new return policy. Under certain terms and conditions, Hyundai buyers can return their car within one year of purchase if they lose their job.