"U.S. Car Ownership Shifts Into Reverse"

"Americans' infatuation with their cars has endured through booms and busts, but last year something rare happened in the United States: The number of automobiles actually fell.

The size of the U.S. car fleet dropped by a hefty four million vehicles to 246 million, the only large decline since the U.S. Department of Transportation began modern recordkeeping in 1960. Americans bought only 10 million cars – and sent 14 million to the scrapyard.

The decline in sales from previous years came despite 2009's cash-for-clunkers program, in which the U.S. government gave Americans up to $4,500 (U.S.) to trade in their gas guzzlers for new, more fuel-efficient cars – a program that saw nearly 700,000 vehicles scrapped.

And the overall drop in car ownership has prompted speculation that the long American love affair with the car is fading. "

Martin Mittelstaedt reports for the Toronto Globe and Mail January 4, 2010.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010