We knew January auto sales would be lackluster. We knew that auto dealers weren't terribly confident about the consumer. And the numbers today have lived up to our low expectations.
GM up 2.6 percent
Ford down 4.1 percent
Toyota a down 2.3 percent
You get the idea. The consumer has officially said, "Not now."
How bad is it for the automakers? Ford expects the January sales rate to be in the 15 million range. By comparison, we ended last year with industry sales at just over 16 million. The automakers, and dealers, expect a rebound in the second half of the year. And right now, that's so far down the road, there's no reason to say their expectations are wrong.
In the meantime, these are chilly days for dealers.