The decline of the "auto nation" is not a short term phenomenon coming out of the credit crunch. It is a fundamental world-wide rethink of the long term viability of the whole automobile economy with US automakers at the epicentre. People may still want to ignore it, but it's happening - auto has become a sunset industry in the US, and my bet is it may soon be worldwide. There might be an argument for US handing out helicopter loads of federal money to permit an orderly decline rather than collapse of the industry in 6-months, but "you're gonna pay tomorrow" as the song goes - Americans better be ready to pay the price for bailing out companies that make things nobody wants any more.
Even if they manage to retool, any hybrid or EV market that develops will be a far cry from the scale of current auto markets, because people have discovered that automobile society itself is not ideal. It does not matter what kind of automobile, the just won't sell like they used to. This graph shows that clearly.
And thank God for that. Many people have been praying and hoping for the demise of Automobile society for a very long time. It looks as though they may be heard.