Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Back on the...Ether

Some of you have asked whether/how I might return to you in some audible electronic form any time soon.
Thanks for asking.
I'm working on it.

Meanwhile, a teaser:
What’s happening in the US automobile market?
Are we the people, accursed with $4/gal+ gasoline, destined for a diet of nothing but nano-sized econoboxes from here on?

Those were a couple of questions posed to me recently by a media colleague, Loren Steffy, business columnist for the Houston Chronicle. The juicy details will be shared tomorrow at Noon CDT on a blogcast he has arranged for us to both “broadcast” on the internet.

There is a degree of irony in the fact that the US’ dependence on foreign oil has created a marketplace in which domestic automobiles are losing share to foreign-manufactured cars…and to rub salt in the wound, the markets in which most all of the automakers are making it are outside the US!

Has Detroit completely missed the boat?

Ford’s Marketing and Communications czar, Jim Farley, yesterday remarked in a conference call that the industry is only now catching up with the ”breath-taking choices” the rest of us are having to make. Those choices are finally forcing changes in the way carmakers make cars...and trucks. Interestingly, fewer of the latter than the former are on the horizon.

American Honda’s head honcho, Dick Colliver, released a statement, admitting “the dramatic increase in car sales appears to be one of the most profound shifts in automotive buying patterns in more than a decade."

Profound may be the understatement of the decade. A recent Canadian study notes that 90% of Americans have already altered our lifestyles significantly in the face of rising fuel costs: dining-out less, driving less, and now, more and more, considering a hybrid automobile as their next transportation purchase.
Detroit didn’t see this coming?

Things are so bad for the domestics, General Motors is thinking of ditching its Hummer line, and will be closing four assembly plants within the next 24-months. It wasn’t all that long ago that Trucks and SUV’s were the prime profit makers for GM and Ford.
My, how things have changed.

Look soon for Chevrolet’s gasoline-electric hybrid, the Volt, and a new range of engines in the 1- to 1.5-litre displacement range. Meanwhile, what to do with existing inventories of gas-thirsty vehicles?

Chrysler has about a 75-day supply of SUV’s on hand, offering gasoline price guarantees as sales incentives. And Ford is rolling out employee pricing carrots to push their slow-selling F-150 pickups. You can buy one for the same price a Ford employee could. Or would.

We’ll talk about it more with you tomorrow.
I’ll see you on the Internet.

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