Now that the industry has wrapped up its U.S. sales reports for 2007, it's time to look ahead and back. Neither picture is especially pretty.
For 2008, it's hard to see more than 15.7 million to 15.8 million sales of new cars and light trucks. That guess is based on the general state of the economy, the job climate and the doddering mortgage market. A new car is not uppermost in your mind when you're in danger of losing your home.
If credit dries up, cut that estimate by several hundred thousand units. To the U.S. auto industry, credit is as important as steel.
This forecast does not come from Wall Street experts, bank economists or denizens of think tanks. It is one man's estimate, based on 53 years of watching the industry, its sales numbers and its market trends as a member of the editorial staff of Automotive News.
It's likely that 2008 will be another year of ups for import-badged cars and trucks and downs for the Detroit 3. This will not be the year of the long-awaited Detroit comeback.