There were no winners in September's sales totals, with every major manufacturer in the market down against the same month last year. The tale is as much one of the U.S. economy and the finance industry's condition as it is of the carmakers', but the effect it will have on bottom lines and future plans is no less significant.

Sales declines of up to 39% or more are affecting the industry without regard to status or niche - luxury sports car manufacturers are, in this case, just as subject to the vagaries of the economy as bread-and-butter builders. Despite the monthly downturns, Subaru is still up on year-to-date sales versus 2007 by 4%. It is alone in that statistic, however, though the addition of the smart fortwo to Mercedes-Benz's total turn a 1.1% year-to-date slump into an 8.4% year-to-date rise, since no fortwos were officially sold in the U.S. in the 2007 fiscal year.

General Motors saw a decline in total sales of 16%, compared to what it sees as an overall industry decline of 20%. That contributed to GM's 27% September market share, its highest figure of 2008 - a bright spot in an otherwise black day for the company and the industry.

The biggest declines were seen at Mitsubishi (39%), Ford (-34%), Chrysler (-33%) and Nissan (-38.4%). BMW (-25.8%) and Mercedes (-16.4%) both saw a marked sales drop-off in September, while Audi fell by just 5.4%. Even perennially even-keeled Honda saw sales fall 20.9% on the month.

Clearly the impact of such drastically reduced sales will mean less revenue to offset the already mounting debts of the major industry players, and that will further worsen the credit situation for all concerned. A comprehensive bailout package for the credit industry is essential to the automotive industry's recovery, and company officials are beginning to voice that sentiment.

GM President Frederick Henderson told reporters Wednesday that the expected turnaround will be slow in coming, and that the bailout would be critical to the economy in general, and the automotive industry in particular, reports The Detroit News.