The recession, rock-bottom consumer confidence and more than a dozen auto dealership closures in the Sacramento region alone last year pointed to dismal car sales throughout California.
On Thursday, the hard numbers completed the story.
Consumer registrations of new cars and light trucks, an indicator of overall new vehicle sales, were down 23.8 percent statewide in 2008, and sales fell to their lowest level since 1993, according to the Sacramento-based California New Car Dealers Association.
The association said registrations – including fleet sales – totaled 1,447,460, down from 1,881,030 in 2007.
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Based on early projections, CNCDA said 2009 sales could drop another 15.1 percent to come in at 1,229,000.
CNCDA blamed multiple factors, particularly the recession and the credit crunch.
"California new car dealers sold 433,570 fewer vehicles last year than the year before," said Gary Shipman, CNCDA chairman. "It's the largest single-year drop I've ever seen, and the main reason that the communities we serve are starving for sales tax revenue."
CNCDA also reported that California market share for U.S. automakers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler last year was a mere 32.4 percent.
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