Small Sales + Small Cars = Dealer Pain

At Rodeo Ford in Dallas, home of the pickup, they're finding size doesn't matter as much as it used to, CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports.

The main thing that the customers there have been requesting? "Can I get a deal on something fuel-efficient?"

"Normally, the first question would be, 'can I get a truck?'" said Ford dealer Hollywood Henderson.

It's the same story across the country. Sales of Ford's popular F-150 are running on empty - down 18 percent from last month over April of a year ago.

Plummeting truck sales mean huge problems for Ford. The automaker will idle some plants three weeks longer than usual this summer ... and reports of more layoffs mean tougher times ahead.

"If fuel prices weren't high and the economy got soft, they might be OK," said Joe Weisenfelder of Cars.com.

"If fuel prices went high but the economy was still pretty strong, they might be OK," added Weisenfelder. "But all these different factors together really leaves them with losses at every turn."

To make matters even worse, struggling U.S. automakers are getting squeezed by suppliers. The cost of steel used to build cars has jumped in just six weeks from $830 a ton to more than $1,000.

And while it can cost almost as much to make a small car as a truck or SUV, small cars are a lot less profitable.

On average Ford makes nearly $12,000 on every full-size pickup, but only $861 on an economy sized car.

As recently as a few years ago, Americans bought 17 million cars a year, this year's forecast is about 15 million. For carmakers, small sales and small cars add up to big headaches.