Car makers had a tepid November as the still-weak economy kept wary consumers, many of whom are dealing with job fears, from purchasing big ticket items of all kinds, but especially cars.
The sales picture is playing out the way many analysts said it would after the September expiration of the federal government's cash-rebate program popularly known as "cash for clunkers" which artificially boosted auto sales in the late summer.
As NPR's Frank Langfit reported for the network's newscast:
Toyota sales rose more than two percent compared with November a year ago.
Sales at Ford -- the healthiest of the Detroit companies -- were flat.
General Motors -- now majority owned by American taxpayers -- saw a two percent drop in sales.
And Chrysler -- which also enjoyed a government bailout -- saw sales plunge 25 percent.
The numbers suggest the auto market is recovering ever so slowly.
But it still remains dramatically smaller than it was just several years ago.
And analysts say any big increases seem unlikely anytime soon with the nation struggling with an unemployment rate over ten percent.
While the recession has savaged most car makers, it has provided opportunity for a few. Hyundai, the Korean economy brand which once drew laughs, saw sales jump 46 percent from a year ago.