Global car sales are expected to fall by roughly 3.1 million units in 2019, the steepest year-over-year decline since the 2008 financial crisis, CNBC reports. This is based on findings by Fitch Ratings’ economics team, which used data collected by the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.

The sales of passenger cars worldwide fell to 80.6 million in 2018, down from 81.8 million sold in 2017. That was the first annual decline since 2009, according to Fitch, and the downward trend looks set to continue in 2019 with an estimated 4% drop to around 77.5 million.

Fitch said the slowdown in car sales is contributing to a drag on global manufacturing. Company chief economist Brian Coulton said: “The downturn in the global car market since the middle of 2018 has been a key force behind the slump in global manufacturing and the car sales picture is turning out a lot worse than we expected back in May.”

One of the reasons for the slowdown is due to falling demand in China. Sales in the world’s largest auto market fell by 11% during the first 10 months of 2019, compared to the same period last year. Coulton said weak credit growth, a rise in used car sales and new emissions standards “depressed new car sales in China.”

“Structurally, environmental concerns about diesel cars – and anticipated regulatory responses – and the growth of ride-hailing and car-sharing schemes are weighing on auto demand,” Coulton said.

But things aren’t just slow in China. Sales in the US are struggling as well, with General Motors, Ford, and Honda all cutting back on production as the auto market cools. Fitch Ratings estimate that US vehicle sales will decline by 2% to 16.9 million vehicles in 2019. Other countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, and Western Europe are expected to suffer from a decline as well.

At the going rate, Fitch Ratings doesn’t see a rebound in 2020, which means the auto slope will remain slippery for the foreseeable year. “While we don’t see a sharp further decline in global manufacturing in 2020, the auto outlook is pointing to a stabilisation at best rather than any sharp rebound,” Coulton told CNBC. Sign of the times? What do you think?