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A Christmas Break Before A Rough '09

Chevrolet Dealership
AP
Chevrolet Dealership

When I called folks I know in the various auto companies to wish them a Merry Christmas, I heard the same thing over and over. I'm thankful to still be working and I'm wondering how much worse things will get next year. Two feelings that are easy to understand, not only among the Big 3 but also with the foreign auto makers.

As terrible as this year has been in the industry, I can see it getting worse. Maybe not to the degree it has in '08, but things could deteriorate further in '09. Don't believe me? Just listen to the warning earlier this week from Mr. Watanabe, Toyota's CEO when he said the industry may not have seen a bottom yet.

Does that mean we could see more shifts eliminated? Yes.

Does it mean we could see more plant closings? Maybe

Does it mean we could even see one of the Big 3 go bankrupt? Possibly.

No wonder people are worried, and yet thankful at the same time. To quote a person I know at one auto maker, "I'm scared to death my job may not be around much longer, but at least I'm still working." And guess what? That came from someone at a foreign auto company.

This is not meant to be a Christmas "buzz kill" blog. Just a reminder that the auto industry is far from being out of the woods. From Detroit, to Japan, to Germany, the executives running these companies know this Christmas break is just that, a break.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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Click on Ticker to Track Corporate News:

- Ford Motor

- General Motors

- Nissan

- Honda Motor

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Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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