Auto Sales Are Up! Only They're Not. Really.

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
auto sales are up only they re not really

Sales is one of the few professions where employees must maintain a positive attitude– no matter what. John Candy’s curtain ring sales in the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” exemplifies this “never say die even when you’re dying” job requirement. Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” is the excruciatingly pathetic flip-side. MLive gives us sample of latter day unfettered optimism. “‘Traffic started picking up with the announcement that GM had the loan money,’ said Bob Johnson, new car sales manager at McDonald Pontiac, Cadillac, GMC Truck, 5155 State in Saginaw Township. ‘Then they came back with the GMAC rates. People are starting to loosen their belts.'” ML pauses for a quick reality check: “The Detroit automakers are trying to weather the biggest automobile sales slump in more than 26 years. Forecasts for December range near 10 million and actual sales could prove the lowest since August 1982.” And then we’re off for another spin around fantasyland. “Savvy buyers know the kind of deals available, said Rob Roy, news car sales manager at Draper Chevrolet, Dodge, Toyota, 4200 Bay in Saginaw Township. ‘They’re aware of the incentives,’ he said. ‘But it doesn’t matter what brought them in. Business has been good since (Dec.) 26th.'” For which part of the biz, Bob? Chevrolet, Dodge, Toyota or all three? Not specified. More of the same after the jump, plus doom and gloom and things go boom– in Bloomberg’s blog!

“You can feel a significant shift in the last couple of weeks,” [Tad Veremis, new car manager at Martin Chevrolet, 8800 Gratiot in Thomas Township] said.

For the past two days, customer traffic at Suski Chevrolet Buick, 8700 Main in Birch Run, was unusually brisk, said Brad Goldman, new car sales manager. Still, sales this month do not compare to December 2007, one of the dealership’s best sales months.

“We’re not breaking any records, but we’re staying strong,” he said.

Restoring consumer confidence is key, said Craig Lang, new sales manager for Garber Chevrolet in Midland.

December sales are down about 50 percent from December 2007, but are up from November at the dealership, he said.”

Meanwhile, back on planet earth, Bloomberg reports “Auto sales tumbled more than 25 percent each month since September as the credit crunch reduced access to loans and consumer confidence fell amid a weakening economy. With demand for large pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles damped earlier this year by record fuel prices, analysts expect an annual total of slightly more than 13 million autos, the fewest in 16 years.

“Consumers are scared,” said Erich Merkle, an auto analyst in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for consulting firm Crowe Horwath LLP. “People that are going to be laid off won’t be buying cars, and even those that are working are likely delaying purchases.”

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  • Porschespeed Porschespeed on Jan 02, 2009

    @TheRealAutoGuy, Well the handle is kind of a giveaway, but I am not enamored of all their product offerings (ie, the UberBeetles)... 'Tis a shame about Saturn. Had GM actually applied the Saturn model to the rest of the business, things could have been much, much different. Saturn really had a chance to take back a good chunk of the small car market. Talk about shooting off all of your lower extremities. Ugh. You are right, of course. Euro/Asian stuff is not the only thing worthy of consideration. Some of it is utterly overrated. Regardless of whether we all agree or not, as you've noted, the more we all know, the closer to the truth we all get.

  • Supremebrougham Supremebrougham on Jan 02, 2009

    I visited Draper's several months ago. To hear them talk, and from the looks of their lot, you would think all was well with the world...trucks and SUV's everywhere, and everybody wants them!!! (or so you are led to believe) Some of you might have noticed a little over a week ago I posted on another story that I was looking at purchasing a used Ford Fusion. Well, I went to look at it. I had to drive almost three hours to see it. It was at a Toyota dealer in Waterford, MI. They knew I was coming, and had the car sitting in front of the building waiting for me. When I got into it, it was FILTHY!!! Mud was all over the dash, the door panels, and the A pillar! Food and hair was all over the seats and there was coffee or pop spilled down the side of the console and onto the carpet. I was appalled!!! The car itself was fine, but I was really put off by the appearance. After that, I told the dealer that I only had so much time. They first pulled the "hold my keys" routine, then they lowballed my trade by $1500. But what infuriated me was when I pointed out that after they would "give" me $4000(I blue booked it at $5500) for my car and then turn around and sell it for $7000, the salesman told me "Well we are part of the Penske Automotive Group, and we have over 1000 dealers and by the time we get your car checked out we will have over $1000 in it." My car is immaculate, and needed nothing more than a wash and light vaccuuming (due to it being winter) and a simple inspection. What their association with Penske had to do with that is beyond me! They kept me there over three hours and after telling me "we can get into it for around $280/month, they finally said as I was leaving "we got you down to $239! By then I just didn't care anymore. I was really disappointed that a Toyota dealership would use such tactics. Oddly enough though,I did decide to put a Toyota back on my short list of potential new (to me) cars, along with the Fusion, but I'm not planning on returning to Waterford to that dealership. Oh, and FWIW, they never called me after they said they would this week... Thanks for letting me vent.

  • Tassos These last months, every day seems to be another great, consequential piece of news for Tesla, who does not just DOMINATE, it OWNS the US and FREE WORLD BEV market.It is the ONLY (repeat ONLY) maker that builds its huge best sellers at a PROFIT, ie, SUSTAINABLY. FOrd EV is bleeding 3 billion in losses. GM hides theirs, and I bet they are even HIGHER. VW has spent a huge no of billions and its ID series has been an UTTER FAILURE.Toyota, already 12 years too late, is yet to try. I doubt they will succeed to dethrone TESLA.
  • Tassos Again: I never took VOlvo seriously in the last 20 or so years.Chinese Volvo-Geely has a dizzying number of models, I have lost count how many,YET its sales and market share in the US has always been DISMAL these last 20 years.It ranges from a pathetic 0.5% to 0.8% of the US market.For comparison, Toyota has 15% and GM has even more. Tesla has almost 10 TIMES VOlvo's share, with a PITTANCE of really TWO Models, the 3 and the Y, as the S and the X hardly sell any copies any more.So why do we keep reading articles about Stupid VOlvo?Because they have the best PR department of any maker.
  • Jdt65724922 How can a Chrysler E-Class ride better than a Chrysler Fifth Avenue?
  • Lorenzo This series is epic, but I now fear you'll never get to the gigantic Falcon/Dart/Nova comparison.
  • Chris P Bacon Ford and GM have decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Odds are Chrysler/Cerberus/FCA/Stellantis is next to join in. If any of the companies like Electrify America had been even close to Tesla in reliability, we wouldn't be here.