Retailers, consumers and prices
IHS Global Insight analyst Rebecca Lindland met with Reuters TV and text reporters at the Detroit auto show to discuss the industry, including electric and small cars, GM, Chrysler and Toyota, and auto shows past and future.
About electric cars:
“We will eventually see electric cars, mostly because fuel economy regulations are really being forced upon the manufacturers from Washington. It’s a policy and regulation issue. We are not seeing huge amounts of consumer demand out there. Whether it’s an education issue or whether they just say, ‘I’m getting a smaller vehicle anyway. I’m happy with the fuel economy I’m able to get.’ I was disappointed to see that hybrids were still less than 3 percent of the market in 2009, which means 97 percent of people are picking something else.”
“I understand the emphasis on electric and future mobility and sustainable mobility. I do think we need to be careful that we’re not being overly aggressive because the consumer has not chosen those vehicles yet.”
About the flashiness of past Detroit auto shows and whether they are a thing of the past:
(Written by correspondent David Bailey)
Steve Rattner, a key figure in the restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler in bankruptcy last year as the head of the U.S. Treasury autos task force, said Monday he believes that both automakers can survive and repay at least some of the taxpayer money allotted to their bailouts.
“There is a lot of excitement and energy around the whole show and around GM and Chrysler for the first time in a long time and I think that’s great,” Rattner told reporters after touring the Chrysler layout at the Detroit auto showwith Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who also is the head of Italy’s Fiat.
Executives from two top U.S. automobile dealers sat down with Reuters’ Detroit bureau chief Kevin Krolicki and correspondent James Kelleher at the Detroit auto show and dished on the industry. Some thoughts on various automakers and the sector follow:
Earl Hesterberg, Group 1 Automotive CEO
Regarding GM and CEO Ed Whitacre:
“I am happy to see some sense of urgency and aggressiveness. We have not had nearly enough sales activity in our GM dealerships for the last year and we’ve been waiting for them to get aggressive and try to get back in the market and get it growing. … (Whitacre) seems to have that same urgency to step up their volumes.”
Saab still faces its demise after parent General Motors sent its clearest signals yet that a viable bid for the Swedish luxury brand has not been submitted that would prompt a reversal of its planned shutdown.
“We’re closing down Saab,” GM Chairman Ed Whitacre said at the Detroit auto show. “We’re winding it down.”
It was clearly a joke, but the bleak state of the auto industry was sadly evident when this happened at Estee Lauder Cos Inc.’s annual stockholders’ meeting on Friday.
Leonard Lauder, the company’s chairman, and founder Estee Lauder’s son, was first up at the meeting held at the St. Regis hotel in New York City.