Auto industry pile-up should come as no surprise

General Motors (GM) clearly surprised its shareholders yesterday by announcing the company's auditors said they had "substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern." In other words, bankruptcy may be around the corner. That revelation sent the automaker's stock down 15.5 percent, to just $1.86, and dominated the headlines all day.

But the news shouldn't have been so shocking -- and more is probably on the way. After all, Grant Thornton, a major consulting firm with plenty of experience in the auto industry, warned more than two weeks ago that "a number of publicly traded companies in the automotive industry" could receive such warnings from auditors. And Lear (LEA), a major parts supplier, warned last week that it's likely to get a going-concern notice, too.