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Automakers: Dead End, or Open Road Ahead?

The massive decline in auto sales last year suggests a large recovery is coming.

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U.S. auto sales have recently rebounded from lows not seen in decades. Despite the recovery, automakers still have plenty of issues to deal with over the coming years. Below we discuss light-vehicle sales and where we think they are going, challenges from new fuel-efficiency rules and the industry's excess capacity, and then close with our thoughts on some of our OEM names including ones that are getting cheap.

U.S. light-vehicle sales data since 1951 helps put the recent sales crash in perspective. 2009 sales were only 10.43 million vehicles, quite a decline from the decade's high of 17.35 million in 2000. The last time sales were close to 10.43 million was 1982's 10.36 million (see top chart, shaded bars denote recession years).

David Whiston does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.