With UK vehicle sales down nearly a third year on year, and by considerably more from a peak of 2.4m units just a couple of years ago, then you know that belts will be severely tightened.
And you know it's serious when big names lose their jobs. The exit of Rick Wagoner from GM and Christian Streiff from PSA recently has been a warning to the world that almost no job is safe.
And the medium-term future does not look too bright if Fitch, the credit rating agency, is to be believed. Reports say they have recently cut their ratings on PSA, Renault and Fiat to junk, the level GM, Ford and Chrysler reached over a year ago. And it has not been too complementary about the rest of the European motor industry either.
The next few weeks will decide the fate of GM and Chrysler in the US with major repercussions over here. It seems likely that GM Europe, at least, will be sold as a going concern. Over the next few days we can expect to see the list of potential buyers.
And it’s not just the economy. I see that in Japan a hybrid vehicle from Honda has become the highest selling model in April, so the old technology seems to be disappearing rapidly too. The world, and particularly the automotive industry, is changing fast, partly driven by innovation and partly by economic reality.
And wherever it takes us, whatever the outcome, these will be uncertain times for those working at all levels within the industry. A decision made in a far-off land can, in the blink of an eye, affect you and your family's future forever. It can be a scary thought.
Your problem is how to protect yourself. How to continue a successful career and to earn at the level you need, while the ground shifts beneath you.
This is never easy, even in good times. But the best operators will never worry, whatever the market conditions. Their value is recognized, not least by themselves. They will always thrive because they show they make a real difference, whether on sales, service, part or at senior management level.
But I feel sorry for those who are excellent operators but without the inner confidence to tell people just how good they are. General managers who always make profit, but cannot brag about their qualities. Sales executives who outperform everybody, but through hard work and commitment, not from the strength of their personality.
There are many more out there. To survive they will each need to learn to shout louder. They must acknowledge their own contribution and confidently talk about it or demonstrate it.
And I worry about those who blindly show loyalty to their employers, whatever the reality. I admire the quality of their loyalty, but their blindness is a real problem.
I am not telling everyone to leave the motor industry – we need talent desperately -but many stay with sinking ships long after they know they are fatally holed below the water line. You must be realistic, consider alternatives and recognize when the situation starts to go beyond bad.
And in some sectors it will get worse, or change even quicker as we work through one of the most challenging economic scenarios we have ever had to face. To come through you will each need confidence in your own ability and realistically evaluate your current circumstances and the opportunities presented to you.
When the going gets tough, you will each have to toughen up. Look about you and shout loudly.