Conservative estimates for 2009 have the U.S. market selling 10.5 million or more vehicles, but so far this year the annualized rate only points to a tally of 9.5 million. China, on the other hand, is primed to hit 10.7 million units by year's end, reports The Globe and Mail.
A confluence of events - the U.S. market's decline and the meteoric rise of China's - have led to the role-reversal. Though even the economic juggernaut that is China has slowed to a crawl in recent months. America's unabated slide into the lowest sales figures in several decades make China's situation look rosy by comparison.
And in fact, China has ridden a wave of positive firsts of late, including introducing the first commercially available mass-produced plug-in hybrid vehicle, in the form of the BYD F3DM (pictured). The company even has plans to export the car to the U.S. market by 2010, potentially up-ending the sales relationship between the two countries even further.
On the other hand, U.S. sales are forecast to slow their descent before returning to a gradual increase sometime around 2010, eventually heading back up to 12 million units per year or more.