US car makers reported dramatic year-on-year drops for March yesterday - but the figures have been met with cautious optimism by business analysts.
The Big Three suffered the most dramatic drop-offs, with General Motors posting a 45 per cent drop, Ford a 41 per cent fall and Chrysler a decline of 39 per cent.
Chrysler said its results were better than feared; it sold 101,000 cars, the first time it had exceeded 100,000 sales a month since September.
GM chief sales analyst Mike DiGiovanni said, "I think we're seeing maybe the first signs of a brightening in the outlook for the auto industry." Efraim Levy, analyst with Standard & Poor's Equity Research, also offered cautious optimism. "We believe we may be at or near the trough of the industry's year-to-year comparisons," he said, "but do not see an uptick in industry demand before (the fourth quarter of 2009), at the earliest."
GM and Chrysler are currently seeking more than $20bn (£14bn) of government aid.