It is not because people are not buying cars, it is because they are buying cars built in plants in the south. Why? Because of the insane economic development incentives and right-to-work laws in those states. It is terrible that the state and local governments of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and others were allowed to give away the farm and entice these companies to locate there.
Just think, if we had national economic development policies that would have recognized that we need to phase out the older antiquated Oldsmobile plants and got Toyota and Honda to build new plants in Ohio and Michigan near the ones that will be closing.
Today we read that West Point, GA is a happy place with jobs at the new KIA plant. Just like we have built public policies that encouraged jobs and housing development in the sprawling suburbs, killing our inner cities, we have knowingly allowed governments to kill the Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin communities that were built around auto plants. It did not have to be this way. I don't think people really care if GM and Chrysler survive, they care about the 1000s of people and their families out of work. If they could be working a similar job at another auto plant run by another company, the crisis we are living with would not be nearly as bad.