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Making Waves

By Ross Kentner

What is the North American auto industry going to look like two years from now? I+?G??G??d be pretty smart if I knew the answer. What I do know is what happened in previous economic downturns. When the problem began new cars covered acres and acres around the manufacturing plants. When it was over, you didn+?G??G??t buy a new car, you ordered one, and it took many weeks in some cases for the factory to build your specific car! We might see that again.

The big three had to come up with innovative plans to lower their inventory. I remember GM cutting a deal that involved shipping thousands of mid-size Chevrolets+?G??-?I think it was to modernize the taxi stock in a far eastern country. When the economy bounced back, a lot of small communities no longer had a new car dealership.

Actually, car dealers are turning out to be more innovative than car-makers. Many of them have come up with smart ways to keep customers buying. Some of those who remain in the leasing business are offering walk away options should the customer run into a financial problem within a year of signing the lease. That+?G??G??s the kind of consumer protection that probably should have been built into car leasing from the outset.

I understand that, all things considered, the car business in our area is navigating the economic storm quite well. Certainly there have never been deals like we+?G??G??re seeing everyday. I+?G??G??m sure the manufacturers are doing their utmost to get product moving. Brand new wheels start about $9,995. with some of the most popular models coming in from $13 to $16 thousand. A family can get into a loaded 7-passenger van for $16,995. A 4-seat convertible can be driven away for $19,995.

Anybody who loves cars like I do can hardly contain themselves. I+?G??G??m like a kid in a candy store. Still there+?G??G??s resistance. Nobody wants to sign on the dotted line until they have a better idea of how this will all play out. It reminds me of the time-honoured phrase, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."

I+?G??G??m here to tell you one thing for sure+?G??-?an economic rule that never fails. Wait around until you can buy a new car with complete confidence in the economy and you will have waited until a) it won+?G??G??t be a bargain, and b) you may have to wait for it to be built!

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