Meanwhile, Car Sales Suck

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
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meanwhile car sales suck

As Marketwatch rightly points out, all this talk of United Auto Workers' contracts this, plug-in hybrids that, and Chinese expansion the other thing, doesn't have much impact on Detroit's current bottom line. Ahead of this Thursday's reports on October sales, the Dow Jones' diligent reporters have rounded-up the usual suspects. First up, Goldman Sachs analyst Robert Barry. To say Barry isn't bullish on the U.S. car market's immediate prospects would be like saying Eeyore needs Prozac. "With oil prices above $90, choppy stock markets, and renewed economic concerns, the selling environment remains poor for new light vehicle sales." Barry reckons ramped-up incentives on outgoing '07s are all that's propping-up U.S. sales. Once those wear-off… Barry's particularly sanguine about Ford Motor Co.; he's told his clients that The Blue Oval Boyz are heading for a 17 percent hit against their October sales numbers. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache doesn't like what he sees over at Chrysler; weak truck sales are likely to lead another double-digit decline. And Barry's warning that Chrysler's Last Big Thing, its new minivans, "may be off to a slow start."

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  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Oct 30, 2007

    I have to disagree there. We have been experiencing a paradigm shift towards wagons and hatchbacks vs. SUV's/CUV's/minivans for at least the last five years. To put a demographic on it, there are a lot of folks in their 30's and 40's (and millions of others) who consider the larger vehicle classes as little more than porkers that destroy the daily driving experience. I would argue that these folks are more into exhiliration, practicality, and fuel economy than their SUV brethern and are perhaps a little more fashion conscious than a typical minivan owner... not that there's anything wrong with that. To put it another way... it's becoming increasingly fashionable in the United States to think like a (stereotypical) European. More people are going for five-speeds and six-speeds. Wagons and hatchbacks have made substantial inroads as of late (especially on both sides of the coast), and fuel economy is taking greater precedent over traditional V8's and perceived gas guzzling marques. The world's certainly changing. Sure there are SUV Sally's and 'Bling Blings' that want all the attention and space on the road. But more folks are looking at these people with genuine pity and contempt. Now the driver who actually uses their turn signals... now THAT'S the girl who has it all figured out.

  • Dawgone Dawgone on Oct 31, 2007

    Sales are in the crapp'er. why because next week gas may cost 4 bucks a gallon. Mini-vans are over no matter what, play taps please. The big 3 are run by a bunch of moroons with dementia,and are illiterate.they are doing the same stupid stuff that they did in the 70's during the gas rationing era.they either forgot or can't read history. v-8's are not the problem, its a hp/weight ratio thing that is killing fuel mileage. take for instance the x-b by toyota. up sized it, same engine 20% worse fuel mileage. kinda like driving a bill board down the road into the wind. until they get a handle on fuel cost, sales will be in the red!

  • Zenith Zenith on Oct 31, 2007

    The small Chrysler vans died because the dummies at Daimler de-contented them, cut the options lists so you couldn't put the content back in even for exta money,and then stuffed the fleets with them to further kill their image. If one could have bought a attractive short van at an attractive price, non-fleet sales of SWB vans wouldn't have declined. The solid steel floors of the old Chrysler vans excelled at cargo handling. Cheesy, cheap masonite doors mounted on cheesy, cheap hinges don't cut it. Getting the seats completely out of harm's way beats having grease and dirt in the folds of a stow-and-go. Whoever ruined the minivan deserves to spend a lifetime riding in a thinly-padded folding seat with grease and grit messing up his clothes and his feet resting on a warped, can't-quite-close-right-anymore storage cover, vice a solid steel floor.

  • Willbodine Willbodine on Oct 31, 2007

    ..."Barry's particularly sanguine about Ford Motor Co.; he's told his clients that The Blue Oval Boyz are heading for a 17 percent hit against their October sales numbers." Ford's US troubles seem particularly tragic. Hard to believe that as recently as ten years ago, Ford frequently had 5 vehicles in the top ten sales list: F-150, Ranger, Taurus, Escort, and Explorer. Fast-forward to 2007 and the score is zip. How do you let that happen? Consider their dismal record with the minivan. First was the Aerostar, based on the Ranger's RWD drivetrain. Too heavy and underpowered. Then came the Windstar, following the minivan tune in the Mopar songbook (base your minivan on your bread-and-butter FWD sedan (Taurus) platform). As did Toyota for the Sienna (Camry) and Honda for the Odyssey (Accord.) Except the Japanese benchmarked the US competition and improved upon them. The Windstar was a mediocre minivan based upon a mediocre Taurus. If only Ford had spent some of their "Gold Rush" profits on updating their sales stars, they would not be in the situation in which they find themselves today. Sad.