By on March 1, 2011

“The consumer is back to the showrooms,” said Brian Johnson, an analyst with Barclays Capital to the Los Angeles Times. No kidding. The consumer is back with a vengeance. February new cars sales were up  27 percent on the year. The world’s two biggest automakers report sales increases we thought only possible in China.

GM reports that February sale rose 45.8 percent compared with a year earlier to 207,028 vehicles.

General Motors total sales in the United States rose 49 percent to 207,028 units in February. The number was actually dragged down by fleet sales. Retail sales rose 70 percent – the highest year-over-year gain in the company’s history. Fleet sales for GM’s four brands were 43,900 for the month, a 2-percent increase for the month, with sales to rental fleets down 5 percent.

A similar, but not as pronounced picture at Ford. Retail sales increased 23 percent. Ford hasn’t broken out fleet sales yet, but they appear to be similarly tepid. Ford’s total February sales, including sales to fleet customers, were 156,626, up 14 percent.

Chrysler’s sales increased a sedate 13 percent. Fleet sales are not available yet, but it is a fair assumption that they are likewise down.  “Our retail sales were up substantially in February, proof positive that the 16 all-new or significantly-refreshed models we launched during 2010 are resonating with consumers,” said Fred Diaz, President and CEO – Ram Truck Brand and Lead Executive for U.S. Sales.

Toyota surprised delivering sales performance in the same league as GM. Toyota’s U.S.  sales were up 41.8 percent to 141,846 units. Toyota branded cars are up 48.5 percent to 128,032 units. Lexus sales are flat from last February.

Analysts had predicted February total car sales to rise 20 percent.

U.S. Car and Light-Truck Sales, Feb. 2011

Complete table

Automaker Feb. 2011 Feb. 2010 Pct. chng. 2 month
2011
2 month
2010
Pct. chng.
BMW Group 19,963 18,013 11% 38,663 33,465 16%
BMW division 16,416 15,100 9% 32,321 28,263 14%
Mini 3,503 2,871 22% 6,254 5,118 22%
Rolls-Royce 44 42 5% 88 84 5%
Chrysler Group LLC 95,102 84,449 13% 165,220 141,592 17%
Chrysler Division 12,628 16,925 –25% 22,333 27,368 –18%
Dodge 33,561 32,975 2% 57,875 52,928 9%
Dodge/Ram 53,855 44,185 22% 91,189 75,170 21%
Jeep 28,619 23,339 23% 51,698 39,054 32%
Ram 20,294 11,210 81% 33,314 22,242 50%
Daimler AG 16,665 15,834 5% 34,301 31,277 10%
Maybach 5 6 –17% 10 12 –17%
Mercedes-Benz 16,176 15,386 5% 33,449 30,545 10%
Smart USA 484 442 10% 842 720 17%
Ford Motor Co. 156,232 142,006 10% 283,213 258,283 10%
Ford division 150,284 123,228 22% 271,459 222,859 22%
Ford/Lincoln/Mercury 156,232 137,365 14% 283,213 249,514 14%
Lincoln 5,948 6,681 –11% 11,506 13,717 –16%
Mercury 7,456 –100% 248 12,938 –98%
Volvo 4,641 –100% 8,769 –100%
General Motors 207,028 141,535 46% 385,925 287,850 34%
Buick 15,807 9,121 73% 29,076 19,182 52%
Cadillac 15,768 9,273 70% 28,349 17,713 60%
Chevrolet 142,919 99,797 43% 268,308 204,896 31%
GMC 32,534 20,242 61% 60,192 41,230 46%
Hummer 296 –100% 561 –100%
Pontiac 84 –100% 473 –100%
Saab 97 –100% 608 –100%
Saturn 2,625 –100% 3,187 –100%
Honda (American) 98,059 80,671 22% 174,328 148,150 18%
Acura 10,796 8,939 21% 18,757 16,071 17%
Honda Division 87,263 71,732 22% 155,571 132,079 18%
Hyundai Group 76,339 58,056 32% 141,342 110,681 28%
Hyundai division 43,533 34,004 28% 80,747 64,507 25%
Kia 32,806 24,052 36% 60,595 46,174 31%
Jaguar Land Rover 3,247 2,793 16% 6,453 5,382 20%
Jaguar 692 761 –9% 1,627 1,392 17%
Land Rover 2,555 2,032 26% 4,826 3,990 21%
Maserati 159 104 53% 273 205 33%
Mazda 19,387 17,054 14% 33,654 32,748 3%
Mitsubishi 6,893 4,019 72% 12,607 8,189 54%
Nissan 92,370 70,189 32% 164,217 132,761 24%
Infiniti 9,144 7,041 30% 16,549 13,752 20%
Nissan Division 83,226 63,148 32% 147,668 119,009 24%
Porsche 2,019 1,531 32% 4,419 3,317 33%
Saab Cars North America 546 –% 1,204 –%
Subaru 21,683 18,098 20% 40,541 33,709 20%
Suzuki 1,643 1,375 20% 4,205 3,415 23%
Toyota 141,846 100,027 42% 257,702 198,823 30%
Lexus 13,814 13,787 0% 26,674 29,304 –9%
Scion 3,944 3,027 30% 7,219 6,062 19%
Toyota division 124,088 83,213 49% 223,809 163,457 37%
Toyota/Scion 128,032 86,240 49% 231,028 169,519 36%
Volkswagen 29,315 24,427 20% 55,610 49,041 13%
Audi 7,753 6,216 25% 15,565 12,726 22%
Bentley 101 95 6% 183 180 2%
VW division 21,461 18,116 19% 39,862 36,135 10%
Volvo Cars North America 4,795 –% 9,071 –%
Other (estimate) 244 241 1% 488 469 4%
TOTAL 993,535 780,422 27% 1,813,436 1,479,357 23%

Data courtesy Automotive News [sub]

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39 Comments on “America In February 2011: Return Of The Buyers, Bigtime...”


  • avatar
    JMII

    The chart is being cut off on the right hand side but the link is working fine.
     
    The wife and I were at a Lincoln / Volvo dealership this weekend and it was a ghost town. I’m actually hoping sales are down as I’m in the market for a used car right now and the less buyer interest the better.

  • avatar
    dwford

    My Hyundai dealer was literally overrun with customers in February – to the point that we couldn’t help everyone and people left! I think there was some pent up demand from January that carried over to February because of the weather. Nice to see after a dismal January in the New England.

  • avatar
    motownr

    The return of credit is a big factor.  For GM in particular, it’s not only about the return of leasing to people with less than perfect credit–it’s about a massive pull-ahead program that encourages even recent customers to trade-in.
    Combine the two, and you have empty lots and a flood of cars heading for auction.
    It will be interesting to see what March sales look like.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Supposedly, GM was stuffing for end of year (Dec 2010), so maybe they’ve cleared the deadwood?

      Still, that big market-beating gain is a good sign for GM, and they’re selling more and more higher-margin stuff. I gotta imagine they’re high-fiving each other in the RenCen.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      “Behind a Rise in Auto Sales, Easier Credit” By Eric Dash in the NYTimes on page A1 on page A1

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Robert Schwartz:
       
      I did read that article.. damn good.
      But it reaffirms a few things of what I believe is true:

      1. It doesn’t matter how good the company is doing as a unit, in recalls, quality, safety or mpg, some poor bastard will buy from it.

      2. The price of vehicles is definitely going up (or maybe just what I believe the buyer paid in the article is too much for what he got.)
       
      motownr:
      3. The low end of the market is going to bite as many people a sit can. I don’t count the market coming back with a article of a “buyer”–for lack of a better term, with a 72mo note at $150 every 2 weeks = 300mo to say the markets are bringing everyone in. I think GM’s desire to get back into the low end of the market with the buyout of Ally says this tiger doesn’t change its stripes.

      4. The market still depends on leases and high interest financing to move people. However.. the article didn’t get down to the REAL NITTY GRITTY that I really wanted to hear about, like if there was cash on the hood and exactly what % rate he paid and what his trade was. But I’m sure there are a “dozen” banks willing to cover ya note. They’d also love to sign ya up on a unsecured credit cards for 40% apr with a down payment of $200 a month and help to get their point across with late night ads.
       
      We haven’t crested at all..

  • avatar
    Bridge2farr

    Deathwatch? He He.

    • 0 avatar
      Motorhead10

      For the love of Pete Estes – the Deathwatch ended June 1, 2009. Move on already. It’s over. The parties that believed bankruptcy was inevitable were correct. Those that didn’t were wrong. End of story. Blame it on Mom, God, Pie, Wall Street or Phil Rizzuto. Whatever helps you deal. But yelling “EFF YOU!” to the kid that just beat you up – while he’s all the way across the schoolyard – on his way home – is just sad. Sheesh.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    Chrysler press releases have been burying the most interesting data point:

    For Feb, Chrysler group sold:
    * 17.7k cars (-31%)
    * 77.4k trucks (+32%)

    While they say that their retail sales are up, with the big drop in car sales, I wonder if is it because Budget Rent-a-Car simply didn’t buy as usual.

    • 0 avatar
      thesource

      Seems like the roll out of the new 300 and Charger is going on for a loooong time – both those vehicles down big-time from year-ago.  Once they start getting into showrooms that car figure should improve. 

  • avatar
    mjz

    Chrysler’s 2011 cars are only just now starting to get to the dealerships in any kind of numbers. Remember they did a “crash” redesign of most of their product line, thus delaying the normal 2011 introduction time significantly. Car sales should improve as a percentage of the mix as the new models ramp up production

  • avatar
    mjz

    What’s up with Jag? Only 692 units (down 9%). Is the new XJ turning out to be a dud? Maybe that’s why they showed that retro looking 3-Series competitor concept.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Ford made a big mistake axing Mercury so soon. Lincoln is is a tailspin now without Mercury as a partner. Add up last year’s Merury sales, plus last year’s higher Lincoln sales and Ford only increased their total sales by about 5,000 units. Not impressive. They should have waited until Lincoln had a stronger product line-up before dumping Mercury. Big blunder.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      mjz:
       
      Now
      Explain to me.. what the point of Mercury was.
      They sold REALLY thinly badged Ford’s at a price that was discounted against a regular Ford. In the end, Merc wasn’t sporty. It wasn’t aspirational. It wasn’t good looking. It wasn’t unique and Id bet they lost money. Think about it, when ya make a company have to deal in between a mainstream brand, and the luxo.. ya got the in-betweens. Ya dont have luxury. Ya don’t have power. Ya don’t have styling, longevity or good looks. Ya dont sell on ya own merits or ya advertising. Ya don’t have driving dynamics. Ya don’t have anything much at all, just a pile of customers who are really confused as to the whole point but see that its mainly Ford’s anyway. They’d just like a deal on a car ya going to lose money on ANYWAY.
       
      There are / were a SLEW of cars that Merc sold that really had no point. The factory stayed open and produced the cars that didn’t look any different than a Ford:
       
      Exploder / Mountineer
      Marauder / Town Car / Crown Vic
      Mistique / Contour
      Taurus / Sable
      Mariner / Escape
       
      Nothing they made was worth a damn and it didn’t hold up on its own.
      They also had a slew of cars that really could have gone somewhere, but they dropped the ball, LS for one…
      Lincoln is just going to have to suffer without anything for a while. Its always been that way. Nothing that they’ve had has sold on its own. Chrysler managed to be abandoned for a coupla years without any money, lets see how Lincoln likes it.
       
      As the marketing and orders were from Ford.. stock the resale/certified used sections of the lot with recent trades from Acura / Infinity / Lexus… with a smattering of other garbage from Linc and some leftovers from Merc and they should be fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Acc azda atch,
      You can essentially say the same thing about Buick, but Buick is doing well.  It doesn’t quite have as much overlap with Chevy, but it will get more overlapping soon.  Sometimes people want a nicer vehicle and a better dealer experience, but can’t afford the top luxury brands or don’t want to spend that much money.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Buick has the advantage of *much* newer product wearing distinctive sheetmetal beyond the grille and lights. It’s also very clearly tuned towards women’s tastes in comfort & convenience, with fuel economy coming up strong.

      Caddy, OTOH, is building on *years* of rework, with a legitimate world-class performance car in the CTS, and a very strong SRX CUV. Very strong differentiation compared to Chevy or Buick.

      Mercury & Lincoln just don’t have that kind of differentation from each other or Ford. Parallel park a Fusion, Milan, and the MK-whatever one behind the other, tape over any badges, and see if you can tell which is which…

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Acc azda atch,
       
      Mjz is not saying that there is a reason for keeping Mercury permanently. He’s saying it was cut too soon before Lincoln was able to stand on it’s own.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      windswords:
       
      I’m going to tell you exactly why Ford has to let Mercury go.
      Marketing and Advertising dollars on top of factory space and dealership consolidation issues.
       
      It doesn’t serve any point to go on a rebound redoing a bunch of current Ford cars.. as Lincolns knowing ya going to delete / ignore Mercury anyway. Even if Ford did know they were going to can Mercury.. (years before we the public would know) I’d bet they knew about 3yrs ago. Id also bet MONEY that it was MULALLY who decided.. its not worth it. His thought process, Ya spending too much money adding trim to lights and that stupid grill and paying to have a spokeswoman to pander their ancient cars to take away from sales of a Ford vehicle.
       
      Then ya look at the price ceiling on any number of Merc cars. Any Ford vehicle now has a top trim that would otherwise be sold as a Merc. Thats essentially was Mercury was.
       
      Why would Ford spend money on Merc advertising and channel that through their dealerships through local spots and push the vehicles that they THEMSELVES have had on the lots for 3-5yrs TOO LONG? While Linc has all the “newest” vehicles? Its only human nature for one to be jealous of the other.
       
      Its bad enough Mercury had ancient cars when it got canned a yr ago. Everyone knew it was going… ya cant keep ancient stuff around with a pretty demographic girl advertising and not wonder what ploy are they trying to pull.
       
      I’m glad they cut the cord on Merc and started focusing on what matters.. FORD with Linc as their upmarket. Its about time they got down to brass tacks and admitted to everyone who’s ever had a Merc going back 20yrs.. that it was a mistake. They didn’t market it properly. They didn’t have enough cars. They weren’t different enough from a Ford to make it worthwhile. While in concept putting Merc next to Linc means its cheaper… then my methodology kicks in and says.. “Buy a Ford and get the uplevel unit ya want just without the b.s Merc badge.”
       
      NTM, I never got the point of (since Ford is operationally smaller) with less brands (doesn’t mean the company is all that much smaller — even though they lost tens of thousands of workers to buyouts and UAW). They also don’t have to deal with the convoluted hierarchy of GM.
       
       
      In the end…
      There is big, BIG, B I G (money coupla hundred billion) dollars tied up in Lincoln right now. And to defer even 20% of that to keep the dead beat Merc around to pander to those who think a Mountineer / Mariner / Sable is a BIG deal.. (while Linc gets its house in order) then they can go buy what they really want, a upmarket top trim Ford is a REALLY bad and EXPENSIVE ordeal.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      SVX,
      I am not saying that Mercury didn’t have problems.  Most auto brands do have a whole or a bad vehicle that is out there for sale.  But, ditching Mercury which could go head to head with Buick gave Buick more buyers and left Lincoln dealers in trouble.  I am just saying that there is a business case for an in between brand, near luxury.  Buick is there… Mercury was doing it badly.

  • avatar
    mjz

    How soon before Ford decides to shutter Lincoln too? Even Acura, with their pathetic beak grilles sold more units. I just don’t see Ford investing billions in Lincoln for a North American only brand, especially one that can’t muster more than 6,000 units in sales per month. Don’t they have something like 1,200 dealers? So they each sold FIVE cars last month? WTF?

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      MJZ:
       
      Alright lets work this out..
      Its well established that you need to have a mainstream row of cars.. and one up level, where performance is really secondary and luxury is a big deal to sell cars in the U.S.
       
      With that said it would be pointless for Linc to be ditched.. because Ford cant exist in the U.S market without a uplevel set of cars.
       
      NOW, lets look at what they have:
      MKZ / Zephr / Fusion
      MKS / Taurus
      MKT / Flex
      MKX / Edge
      Navigator / F-150 with a cap / Expedition
      Aviator / Exploder
      The Continental / Town car / Grand Marquis is being taken out back and shot.

      None of the cars are really shining because its just their first iteration (except the MKT that looks wholly like a Linc.) Id wait until a full model cycle or at least after a refresh has been done.
       
      They have nothing thats unique to just Lincoln, and they have a vehicle coming that could be on the C1 frame / Focus. Its possible a mustang could be there.. but what is the point of a 40g mustang.. with luxury. They tried that years ago. and it failed.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      MJZ you are right on.  Lincoln is a laughing stock in the luxury world…and then to add insult to injury, their 6 vehicles can’t even manage to sell 1K a month on average.  Just look at the Town Car wipe the floor with the Taurus rebadge.
       
      Lincoln needs to go.  They spend more on advertising for the pathetic excuse for a luxury brand than they would if it wasn’t around.
       
      The SRX outsold the whole Lincoln brand for Feb.  That’s sad.

    • 0 avatar
      Trend-Shifter

      I still think they need the Lincoln name to justify a higher level vehicle and price point to the buyer.
      The only thing I would do different is have Ford dealers carry Lincoln to increase the footprint and traffic.  
      People were OK with Lincoln/Mercury, they will be Ok with Lincoln/Ford. 

      Next, get that Lincoln pipeline fixed.    

      Off subject a tad..  Why doesn’t Ford export the Lincoln (Panther) Town Car to China ??  Get some life out of that old tooling.    The car is a fit for the China market since it is all about looks, luxury, and status.    

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Hey, don’t make fun of the Lincoln Town Car. That fleet queen makes up roughly 20% of Lincoln’s sales!

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      @Silvy:

      6033 Caddy CTS
      5502 Caddy SRX

      5948 Lincoln (all models)

      Other fun comparos:

      7548 GMC Acadia
      7190 GMC Terrain
      6398 Chevy HHR
      6245 Chevy Camaro

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    The two top selling vehicles in February were:
     
    1. Ford F-Series Pickup — 37,549 — +14.1%
    2. Chevrolet Silverado — 31,728 — +60.1%
     
    Followed by:
    3. Toyota Camry — 27,212 — +64.4%
    4. Toyota Corrola/Matrix — 25,860 —+52.2%
    5. Ford Fusion — 23,111 — +40.4%
     

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    WOW!!!
     
    Taurus DOWN for the year
    Flex DOWN for the year
    MKS DOWN for the year
    MKT DOWN for the year.
     
    I guess the D3 curse is still alive and well at FMC…they really need to dump that failure of a platform ASAP.

  • avatar
    Bridge2farr

    Cadillac on track to be #2 luxury brand. Outsold Lexus. Again.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      16.4k BMW
      16.3k Benz

      15.8k Buick
      15.8k Caddy

      13.8k Lexus

      Caddy’s got a couple of plates to jump to get the #2 spot, and Toyota’s not afraid to pile on the cash to keep the #1 spot for the year.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    I had read that GM is claiming their inventory levels now sit at 60 days.  IIRC TTAC reported that last month it was at 94 days. If this is true than in a 28 day month GM churned through 34 days of inventory, plus kept up with increased production.  So much for channel stuffing???

    I agree with everyone above who says the opening of credit has a lot to do with this. In my focus group of one I am getting flooded with 0% credit card offers the last 30 or so days, literally two or three in my mailbox a day. Credit has definitely relaxed.

    Cadillac outselling Lexus two months into the year?  Who’d of EVER thunk that?!?

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      HoldenSSVSE
       
      Not to intrude…
       
      Id be curious as to what exactly the offers are: more fees, higher apr, 3rd tier banks? I’d think the credit cards are towards higher %’s, down payments and less usability.  The credit market hasn’t returned.. its just put on a different face.

      Credit market hasn’t changed at all. Maybe the EASE of getting a card has.. or the availability of it has. But, now its the subprime market and how much to charge them JUST for having a credit card vs the over 700-720-750 get w/e. Witness GM going after Honda with ALLY and their subprime financing.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      @Acc azda atch

      O/T reply

      Without getting into gory details they are premium offers from the likes of Chase, CitiBank, Capital One etc. etc.  0% for 12 months (which I understood was all but dead), 5.99% lifetime balance transfers with no fees (whoa), etc. etc.  Even got a you’re pre-approved by AX (don’t see the need for an AX card, have one from my corp and rack up miles on another BoA provided card).

      Maybe my FICO is through the roof (I was 700ish the last time I looked, hardly “gold” in the new world order) so either I’ve moved the needle on the score, or credit has loosened up.

  • avatar
    thesource

    For better or worse, Lexus is going to use spiffs to move the metal.  They blew out inventory back in December in the annual push to finish #1 in luxury again, pulling sales away from the beginning of 2011.  Even the Lexus Brand Manager admitted to underestimating Feb. market potential.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Acc azda atch, Re: Lincoln. The point I was trying to make is that Ford prematurely chopped Mercury from the market, and now Lincoln is suffering because of it. There was absolutely no reason to cut all the Mercury models now. The Milan and Mariner could have continued until the replacement models were due. This would have given Ford more time to develop new and hopefully higher volume Lincoln models to take their place. Last February, Lincoln-Mercury dealers sold over 14,000 units, this year, less than 6,000. The decline is due entirely to the deletion of Mercury, and with less people coming to the dealerships, Lincoln is dropping as well, as I’m sure some of those Mercury shoppers were converted to Lincoln buyers.

    I still don’t see Ford investing billions of dollars to prop up Lincoln as a North American only brand. Virtually all other luxury models are global products, sold through out the world’s markets, even if the marque names are not used (i.e. Acura RL is Honda Legend in some markets). I don’t think the Lincoln brand has an international cache that will allow Ford to take it global. I also don’t think that Ford has to have a luxury brand to succeed in the market. The new Ford models are becoming more and more upscale, making the need for a seperate brand redundant. For example, The Taurus is arguably nicer that the Lincoln MKS and when fully equipped, can nearly match it in price. That’s why MKS sales are slowing to a trickle.

    Regarding combining Lincoln and Ford dealers, that’s just not going to work. Luxury cars buyers will not want to shop at a Ford dealership, they want the full blown luxury car treatment and don’t want to mix with the “riff raff” at the dealerships. Case in point: a friend of a friend who took his Lincoln in for service was given a Ford F-150 as a loaner car! Can you imagine this happening at a Lexus/BMW/Mercedes dealership?

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Actually I can,

      REALLY easily in fact. Depending on how cheap the vehicle is.. could be a direct upmarket pitch, disguised as a low mi perfect dealer rental car.. that brings in more money for a trade or lease than the current vehicle. A few cars are VERY similar in size AND price against a F-150. On top of, the F-150 is a Mark LT for Mexico, knowing that the Blackwood failed.. miserably.
       
      If I ever had the bad choice to buy a Toyota with leather, a German car of any kind or a Japanese luxo car… (not my taste to be coddled). They all have their iterations of trucks. NTM, a F-150 can EASILY reach into the 60g (Harley Davidson, King Ranch, Raptor etc) market pretty quickly, which is how they arrived at Linc with a badge on a F-150 for Mexico.
       
      Its really easy to buy a:
      1/3 series / X1/3, B/C/GLK class, IS/ES/RX, G25 and put into service and walk out out with a GL/ML class, X5/6/5GT, Armada / QX56, LandBRUISER/GX/LX570. Really doesn’t matter what they give ya. Ya take what they got on hand. They all have the same amount of large trucks to fork out for sale. Whoever is the rental agency that deals with the dealership would handle what they get.
       
      Doesn’t surprise me at all.. depending on the vehicle he brought in.. its a “secret” sales pitch.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      At BMW & Merc, no, because they don’t have a lower tier to give.

      At a Lexus / Toyota? Sure.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I hope with Mercury gone and Lincoln shaking in it’s tires, that Ford can make it. Even though they didn’t take bailout money doesn’t mean they’re off the hook. They are in deep, deep trouble like GM and especially Chrysler. I don’t believe I’m fooling myself, but I kind of compare this to the consumer electronics industry, namely, televisions. Zenith, Philco, Admiral, Motorola, Magnavox and others were doing just fine and dandy 40 years ago then suddenly Sony comes out with Trinitron and the picture quality blew everyone else out of the water. Imperceptably, U.S.-made TV’s began a downward trend with Zenith on top for years, then the U.S. brands were either bought up by others, licensed to foreign makers or just faded into history. Automobiles are the last major U.S.-made consumer good of any importance and being really simplistic, it appears to me it’s happening to them now. Any domestic names that may remain will be just that – names. GM is on its way, so is Chrysler and then Ford. Homogenized milk is supposed to be healthier for you. What about automobiles?

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      My dad owned a small chain of appliance stores, and he wouldn’t touch Zenith, Philco (probably the worst of the bunch, with Zenith close behind), Admiral, Magnavox or Motorola Tv’s with a 10 foot pole back almost 50 years ago. Yeah, he sold all of them. They were crap, even back then, a lot of them had point to point wiring (remember “Hand Crafted”?), and even the Motorola “Quasar” modular sets had solder joint issues. The RCA’s made at the time were pretty much top of the heap, most of them were very good, even if we did get a clunker in the late 60′s that was a tube/solid state hybrid that blew the audio circuit out of it 3 or 4 times the first year, mostly because the audio circuit board was put right over a large tube, and the heat cooked it. They tried several shields, and after that didn’t work, they made up an umbilical cord and moved the PC board over about 6 inches and until it got zapped in a storm, it was trouble free. I had a steel cased 23″ RCA “institutional” TV that was made for a prison or mental hospital that lasted about 20 years, and was working great when it got nailed by a lightning strike and had to be scrapped. It had a slot for a hunk of plexiglas to prevent screen damage, and the controls had a door that could be locked to prevent “tampering by unauthorized personell”. About 1969 or so, we bought a Sharp portable that I used for almost 30 years. The picture tube finally died on it. A lot of the middle 70′s RCA sets were rebranded Panasonics and were really good too. I have a Panasonic/RCA portable that still looks great when hooked up to cable. It’s at least 30 years old.
      My dad and his brothers had to sell the stores when my uncle pulled the biggest boner ever and bought a million dollars of Philco TV’s, last year’s models on top of that, and nobody wanted them. They sold out to the company that became Circuit City a few years later. I could tell you what a mess that outfit was, until the “idiot” son in law got control of the company from the “old man” and his two sons, and created Circuit City.


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Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India