sizes up Big 3 at Detroit auto show

January 13, 2009

Reuters interviewed Peter DeLorenzo, publisher of website during the Detroit auto show. Highlights follow:

Q: What kind of shape do you see the U.S. automakers in?

— Ford

“Ford is clearly distancing themselves from what I now refer to as the old Detroit two.”
— GM
“There’s kind of a Jekyll-and-Hyde thing going on with General Motors.”

“I call it the dead car company walking. There are too many serious problems hovering over Chrysler right now.”
“The suppliers are starting to make contingency plans for a world that doesn’t have Chrysler in it.”
“I just don’t see them surviving the year.”
“If the economy doesn’t start to show signs of life, I don’t think Chrysler can keep the whole thing afloat.”
Q: Are electric cars finally going to be a reality given the time lines announced at the show?
“Will electric vehicles be a part of this nation’s fleet in the future? Absolutely, but I don’t think they will ever be more than 25 percent. Hybrids will be a strong player going forward.”
Q: Will those time lines put the U.S. automakers under greater pressure, however?
“Being put under the microscope in Washington just opened a Pandora’s box of attention on the Detroit automakers.”
Q: Will luxury auto market suffer even more than the overall market in the recession?
“I don’t think there’s any question that the availability of incentivized leasing programs allowed people to get into vehicles they couldn’t normally afford.”
“A shakeout is coming. It’s probably going to hit import manufacturers really hard.”
“It (the luxury segment) will still exist, but I think it will be at a reduced level and stay there for a while.” 


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