Auto sales tanked in september which means the "cash for clunkers" program provided just a temporary sales increase. Not unexpected.
GM sales fell 45%, Chrysler 44% and Ford 5.1%. Among imports, Toyota fell 13%, Honda 23%, and Nissan 11%. Oddly enough, Hyundai posted a gain of 27%. Total of all vehicles sold was 745,997.
The interesting thing is the huge drops in GM and Chrysler compared to Ford. This trend has been ongoing since the bailouts. Perhaps people are more willing to buy Fords because of some resentment against the other two automakers and the fact that Ford is still solvent(for now).
The perception of Japanese auto quality doesn't seem to have made a difference either. Hyundai is doing well. That may be the result of their warranty and the recent program to insure payments against job loss. On the other hand, GM's 60 day no questions asked return policy seems to have had no effect so far.
Of course, people are reluctant to take on new car payments in the current economic climate. If the old car is still running, they're more inclined to keep it or get it fixed if there are problems. With so many people unemployed and credit tight, the days of trading in for a new auto right after the old one is paid appears to be a thing of the past. At least in the numbers.