AUDIO – The ‘new normal’ for the U.S. auto industry

November 2, 2009

A few years ago, one of the guests at our annual Reuters Autos Summit — Tom Stallkamp from Ripplewood — pretty much stopped everyone dead in their tracks by predicting that auto sales in the United States was likely to fall to an obscenely low level of 14.5 million.

Those were the days.

Of course, Stallkamp was making that prediction at a time when U.S. car manufacturers were selling in the neighborhood of 16 to 17 million a year. If the number hits 14.5 million in 2010, people will be wild with enthusiasm as most now expect something in a range of 10 to 11 million.

That would be about flat to a little higher than sales this year.

On the first day of Reuters annual sojourn to Detroit for the Reuters Autos Summit, defining what the “new normal” is going to be for everything about the auto industry is much on everyone’s mind. What will happen with the big manufacturers, the dealerships, the suppliers.

It’s a lot to assess all at once.

Bob Carter, head of Toyota’s U.S. operations kicked things off for the summit by talking about what he sees for the coming year.

The Reuters Autos Summit runs through Thursday in Detroit and Paris. For an audio clip of Carter’s comments, please click this link (Toyota’s Bob Carter at the Reuters Autos Summit).

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