RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
OK, stock up, auto sales down. The numbers for March are out. Chrysler and General Motors both say their U.S. sales dropped 19 percent compared to last March. Even Toyota says its sales fell sharply. Dustin Dwyer of Michigan Radio reports.
DUSTIN DWYER: As with a lot of things, the problems can be traced back to the housing industry and the tightening credit market. Rebecca Lindland analyzes auto industry sales results for Global Insight. She says a year ago, many people could depend on the equity from their house to secure a new car loan. That's not the case anymore.
Ms. REBECCA LINDLAND (Global Insight): Even if the consumer desperately wants to buy a car, the funds just aren't there. There aren't a lot of consumers paying cash. They're dependent upon credit. And credit isn't available right now.
DWYER: Some automakers, such as Ford, say they expect things to get worse before they get better. But others are holding out hope that a recovery's on the way, thanks to lower interest rates and the upcoming tax rebates.
Mike DiGiovanni is with General Motors.
Mr. MIKE DIGIOVANNI (General Motors): I've been doing this for over 30 years, and one thing I've learned: When times are bad, everybody predicts they will never recover, and when times are good, we never see that they'll go down.
DWYER: But analysts say the good times could still be a ways off. They expect this will be the worst year for U.S. auto sales in a decade.
For NPR News, I'm Dustin Dwyer in Ann Arbor, Michigan.