Auto ought to pick up


Cash for Clunkers did wonders for many automakers, but of the three big US companies, only Ford was able to effectively cash in. And it was very effective, enjoying a 17% gain in sales over August 2008. The good news for US brands in general is that consumers are thinking Buy American, and GM is poised to turn around, more so than Chrysler.

Ford alone was able to take effective advantage of Cash for Clunkers among US brands, placing two of its models – the Focus compact car and the Escape crossover – in the Clunker top 10 sellers. All of the others on the list came from overseas. According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford’s midsized Fusion is also selling well.

GM and Chrysler, focused on restructuring after receiving government bailout money, were not in a good position to react to Clunkers, and both lost money during the month of August compared to the same month in 2008.

However, there was good news for US manufacturers in general and for at least two of these companies in particular from Consumer Reports.

For starters, 81% of consumers surveyed with new car purchases in their future said they would consider a domestic brand, compared to 47% considering Asian brands and 46% considering European brands.

On a brand-specific basis, those willing to consider a Ford rose 17% compared to this point of 2008, and GM enjoyed a 6% increase. But Chrysler has a tough row to hoe – it lost 25% of its positive responses over the year.

RBR/TVBR observation: We don’t presume to be experts in this field, but we never forgot about the oil embargo back in the 70s and the sudden appearance of subcompacts on our highways.

The political situation in the Mideast never seemed particularly stable at any time between now and then – anything but, in fact. With that in mind, at all times, we would have had excellent and ever-improving energy efficient models prominently in the mix regardless of how they were selling, with the full knowledge that someday they would be by far the most in-demand inventory on the lot.

Please, automakers, look at the world political situation with open eyes and be prepared for adverse developments – because when you are ailing, a lot of other industries, including broadcasting, get sick too.