2009 is a year that automakers and those in the auto industry would like to forget.
We saw the government bail out and take majority ownership of GM, the announcement that Saturn, Hummer, Saab, and Pontiac brands would be sold or discontinued and on a positive note we saw an ascendancy from Ford.
Chrysler is now being run by Fiat which is better than many alternatives including liquidation and Toyota had its largest loss in more than 60 years.
The weakness of the worldwide economy that has lowered the value of the dollar makes any imported products (cars included) more expensive.
Does that mean it's a good time to take another look at domestic automakers?
I think, yes.
GM has introduced at the end of last year, a 60 day money back policy as they are confident that there products are on par with those of the Asian manufacturers. Of those that have bought GM cars since the program started, there have been very, very few returns.
Ford of course, was the only big three domestic automaker that did not participate in the government bailout. They are in good financial shape, they're making great cars, and they may even turn a profit as early as this year.
In automotive technology we'll continue to hear about PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) in anticipation of Chevy's Volt, most likely on a limited basis.
In the auto making background, the Chinese are hard at work developing vehicles that will soon be available in the US market either by private labeling for known manufacturers or through their own brands like Geely.
Geely may be the ultimate buyer of Ford's Volvo brand.
The farce that is global warming and the governments push to so called "green" technologies, will unfortunately force automakers to build vehicles that consumers don't necessarily want. We’ll see lower cost, higher efficiency fuel sippers which is OK, though there is still a continued need and want for SUV’s and larger vehicles
On a continued sad note, automakers including those in the US, will continue to spread their production facilities to low cost regions around the world. The largest growth areas for new sales are in these places also so it makes sense from a business standpoint.
All in all it should be an interesting 2010 in the auto industry.
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