What's Up Mac? "Auto Sales Receding as New Model Mania Grips Detroit"

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By Mac Gordon
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel


Detroit February 1, 2013; With U.S. new-car sales turning south amid January's icy and rainy weather, the optimism exuded by the Detroit auto show has turned to concerns among automakers and dealers alike.

The winter's post-holiday months a century ago never stirred a consumer rush to the showrooms, or urban dealers would not have scheduled their annual shows in January ((Detroit) and February (Chicago).

But this year Chrysler/Fiat has ran into snags that spilled over onto the 2013 scenarios of other domestic automakers as well as foreign rivals.

Despite Ford's lavish profit sharing gift of $8,300 per employee, an atmosphere of gloom descended on the global market with the show's closing and the arrival of February.

A synopsis follows:

- Ford's CFO, Bob Shanks, warned that the automaker's operating losses in Europe would hit a record $2 billion per quarter in 2012-2013.
-Europe's auto market plunged below 13.5 million vehicles last year, the lowest since 1994.
-GM CEO Dan Akerson, although his exhibits at the winter show were glitzier and costlier than ever, issued a Cassandra-like forecast for the kingpin of the Europe market, saying that mighty Germany could be slipping into a recession.
-Bad boy” Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Chrysler and Fiat, upset his competitor's auto show cheeriness by cutting his planned new-model launches and coupling his retrenchment plans with those of other manufacturers. Marchionne had defied the industry's 2012 new-model mania streak with unprecedented derision as to GM's, Ford's and Volkswagen's splurges.

Hey Mac What Do You Think?

Are more models less...or less more? Did government intervention at GM and Chrysler foster new-model mania?

Did Ford keep pace with all those Fusions and Focuses, while Chevy matched strides with so many Cruzes and Sonics; Honda with Fits and Jazzes (in Europe); Chrysler /Fiat with Darts and 500s, and VW with Beetles and Jettas?

The Wall Street Journal (01-30-2013, page B8) has it right. “This year shapes up as leaner for new models. As new-model mania grips auto industry.

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