Forbes recently weighed in on what it considered “America’s Fastest-Dying Car Brands.”

It’s come to this.

The magazine identified Buick as ripe for the plucking (sales decline of 81 percent since 2003), even though General Motors says it’s keeping the nameplate. But say goodbye to the LaCrosse and Lucerne at the very least.

GM is trying to sell both Hummer and Saab, though the latter (with Swedish government assistance) is likely to survive as an independent. Anyone who buys Hummer today should probably be in a padded cell.

Jaguar is also something of a basket case, with sales declines of 112 percent since 2003. Ford sold the brand last year to India’s Tata, and the latter plans to produce fewer and more expensive cars. It’s probably not in terminal decline.

Chrysler, if it survives, will no doubt shed many once-vital nameplates. Sayonara PT Cruiser and Crossfire; so long Dodge Magnum.

Let’s remember the sobering period between the early 1920s and the end of the Depression. In the U.S., among the disappeared were Duesenberg, Cole, Dorris, Haynes, Apperson (maker of the immortal Jackrabbit), Cord and dozens more. There were 200 carmakers in 1920, 43 in 1930 and 17 in 1940. For sobering reading of a complete list of all the defunct U.S. automakers, click here.  And for a look at the glory that was Duesenberg — once probably America's most prestigious marque — take a look at this:

Today, the Big Three may well become the Big Two. But if we’re looking for heartening trends, just consider all the small electric car startups, from Tesla, Fisker, Aptera and much-lesser-known brands. Take a look at my last post on the whimsically named Wheego Whip. Yesterday, the Rocky Mountain Institute announced a new group called Project Get Ready to spread electric charging stations across the country (complementing Better Place and Coulomb Technologies). The auto industry isn’t really dying; it’s just evolving.

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