Top quotes from the Detroit auto show

January 13, 2009

Top automotive industry executives gathered at the media preview for the Detroit auto show. Following are some of the notable quotes:
    
MIKE JACKSON, CEO, AUTONATION

“I have seen a better mood at funerals,” he told Reuters TV.
    
IRV MILLER, GROUP VICE PRESIDENT, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES USA

“Last summer’s $4-a-gallon gasoline was no anomaly. It was a brief glimpse of our future.”
        
BOB NARDELLI, CEO, CHRYSLER (left)

“We reduced layers, expanded job responsibility…no one around the table should read this as us trying to position it for sale,” he said of Chrysler.
    
FINBARR O’NEILL, PRESIDENT, J.D. POWER

“We believe we’re near the bottom, or at the bottom. The market will come back, but it won’t come back to where it was before,” he said of 2009 U.S. auto sales.

“Let’s maintain our sense of humor folks. We’re going to need it.”

“Somebody is the walking dead out there,” he said of auto manufacturers.
    
BOB LUTZ, VICE CHAIRMAN, GENERAL MOTORS

“We all recognize we want to use less petroleum. The way you use less of something in the marketplace is to raise the prices. At some point, those who make rules have to recognize the fact.”

On GM’s wholly owned Saab unit:

“Frankly they’ve been on GM life support. It’s just an unending string of losses and the hope is always with the next generation of products they’ll make money … but when you look at the financial results it’s just never happened.”
    
TAMMY JONES, CHRYSLER EMPLOYEE AND UNITED AUTO WORKERS MEMBER

“The concessions that Bush wants us to make are just a slap in our faces. People fought and died for our rights and we must fight to keep them,” she said at a protest rally (right).
 
BILL FORD, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, FORD MOTOR

“Right now as we see it we’re comfortable, but we have asked for a line of credit just in case the world implodes as we know it,” he said of U.S. government loans.

“We are betting long term that fuel becomes dear and that energy independence becomes important not only to Americans, but people around the world. The bigger risk is to do nothing.”

RICHARD COLLIVER, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, HONDA AMERICA

“We’re not even forecasting because whatever we forecast, we would be wrong. If you look at the last 120 days, if that trend continues then we’re looking at a significant reduction (from 2008).”
    
DAVID CHAMPION, SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR AUTOMOTIVE TESTING, CONSUMER REPORTS

“You reap what you sow. If you were at GM, Ford and Chrysler in the ’80s and early ’90s, their vehicles were appalling in terms of product quality.”
    
JAMES BELL, EDITOR, INTELLICHOICE.COM

“Everyone needed to get over the fact that they’re not No. 1 anymore,” he said of GM. “It’s Toyota.”

“Ford got a lot of credit for not going to the well, but that’s only because they already mortgaged their future,” he said of last year’s automaker government aid requests.
 
MASATAMI TAKIMOTO, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TOYOTA

“In a way, we’re back to where the industry was 100 years ago, when it was moving away from steam-powered cars and competing with horse-drawn carriages. But this time it will be a lot more difficult because we have carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions to worry about.”

FRITZ HENDERSON, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, GM

“People are wondering, ‘Is the company going to make it? Is the company going to be viable?’ Until we actually answer those questions more satisfactorily, we’ll continue to have that kind of volatility.”
    
PETER DELORENZO, PUBLISHER, AUTOEXTREMIST.COM

“Ford is clearly distancing themselves from what I now refer to as the old Detroit Two.”

“There’s kind of a Jekyll-and-Hyde thing going on with General Motors.”

On Chrysler: “I call it the dead car company walking despite Nardelli’s pronouncements. There are too many serious problems hovering over Chrysler right now.”

“Being put under the microscope in Washington just opened a Pandora’s box of attention on the Detroit automakers.”
    
(Photo/Reuters)

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