Car Sales Numbers

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
You have to hand it to Chrysler. Their sales in the United States dropped 30 percent in October compared to October 2008, but they're crowing that October was six percent better than September. I don't know whether that says more about Chrysler or September. In fact September was a pretty bad month for all the carmakers because it was the first month up after the expiration of the popular Cash for Clunkers program. All of Detroit suffered a bit of a hangover when the deals stopped being done.

By comparison, GM and Ford did pretty well. GM, which had a 4.7 percent jump in October would have been up 11.6 percent, but it was dragged down by its Hummer, Saab, Saturn and Pontiac brands – all of which are being dropped eventually. Ford kept up its hot streak, recording a 3 percent bump in October sales. It's already benefitting from positive consumer reviews of its products and fresh profits in the third quarter.

Auto industry writer Paul Ingrassia, author of the forthcoming Crash Course was impressed by both Ford and GM.

"The progress is welcome and it's real," he said in an interview. "There's a long way to go, but you have to have a few first steps."

And you have to step in the right direction, which is what Chrysler is not doing.

Says Ingrassia: "Chrysler is still in the deep woods here and it's unclear what will happen."

A look at their report for October shows incredible declines in almost all of its models except the Dodge Challenger. Chrysler Sebring? Down 69 percent. Chrysler Aspen? Down 68 percent. Town and Country minivan? Down 33 per cent. Zheesh!

This is a company in desperate need of a turnaround plan, which is exactly what its new owner, Fiat, will unveil this week. The word is that Fiat plans to introduce many smaller models to Chrysler showrooms.

Judging from the way its current lineup has been selling, Chrysler could use anything other than what it already has on offer.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.