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I've seen 2 weeks as the time period where all credit applications for the same purpose count as one.

For auto loans only. The window for home loans was extended to 30 or 45 days. If you're shopping unsecured debt (e.g. credit cards) than each hit is a hard hit. This is one of the big reasons why credit experts advise against open a charge account at a store to get the 10% off on your first purchase and pay it off. All of those hard hits and opened credit no history slowly chip away at your FICO score.

It's not that complicated - but it does have it's twists.
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