Crazy Things Are Happening in the Auto World – Is Ford Sinking Along with GM and Chrysler?

The Ford Figo launches in India next year

The Ford Figo launches in India next year

Cash for Clunkers was great for domestic auto sales, right?

During the life of the promotion, yes, sales moved along at a brisk pace. But then September came and reality set in again. Check out these sales numbers for September compared with September 2008: General Motors was down 45 percent, and Chrysler was down 42.1 percent, while Ford dropped just 5.1 percent. (By the way, Hyundai was the automaker with the highest increase in sales, with a surge of 27 percent.)

More important than Ford’s small drop in sales is the company’s increase in market share, which jumped from 12.5 to 15.3 percent, partly due to the success of the new Ford Taurus.

Ford also hopes to gain market share in India, where it has invested $500 million in building a new plant in Chennai capable of producing 200,000 cars per year. The all-new Ford Figo will roll off the lines there to compete with the Tata Nano. The Figo won’t make any stateside appearances, but we’re okay with that, because we get an all-new Fiesta.

As Ford climbs the sales charts and aims for dominance, GM is still limping. First came the news that the company put an end to its much-hyped eBay program after a brief test stint in California. The program was supposed to launch nationwide, but evidently GM execs noticed that no one really cared. We saw that coming.

The end is here for Saturn

The end is here for Saturn

Then came Roger Penske’s pump fake on buying Saturn. Instead of throwing the touchdown pass Saturn fans (and dealers) hoped for, Penske panicked and took a sack, leaving Saturn to wither and die. GM has already halted production on Saturns and expects to sell out within 4 months. Better get yourself a Outlook or a Sky while you can!

Then there was Chrysler… holy smokes what a mess. Looking at the big picture, the future is pretty bright for the Pentastar. New owner Fiat has great plans, but Chrysler has to survive with its own products for two years before those plans take effect.

Part of the strategy is to split the Dodge brand in two, with Ram becoming its own brand and Dodge focusing on affordable sports cars. It’s a shakeup that involves reshuffling top management to inject more Fiat blood into the Chrysler family. The full details of those changes are here.

Are you rooting for the home-team automakers or looking overseas for your car fix?



  1. GM in the US looks dead Saturn without Opel/Vauxhall doesnt exist because thats all they are even your Sky was a Lotus which GM owned even the PotiacG8 that was loved started life as an Opel and was refined and upgraded in Australia not US. same with Ford their European and Australian cars are great they have to be as they compete with all manufacturers in those markets. Both these manufacturers are alive outside the US.Its a tough car market globally at present unfortunately for Ford GM an Chrysler their US product line isnt wanted now in their domestic market. Other than the odd cool looking muscle noone else ever wanted it. Only the US has had cheap gas for many years, now that youve seen gas at prices we normally pay you see why.

  2. Well, keep in mind we’re comparing not comparing sales figures with last month, but from from last year. That was the month that the stock market crashed and gas was still hovering around $4 a gallon. Auto sales really crashed in October last year.

    What about GM? Penske didn’t take a sack. Why would he buy Saturn after he found he couldn’t line up a manufacturer to produce cars for the brand? Folks, just kiss GM goodbye at this point. It is a company that is remaking itself by making every mistake that put it in the toilet in the first place. When the company desperately needs to distance itself from “old white men” rustbelt business hacks, it retains the “magic” guys like Lutz and hires a board chairman that is like a zombie version of Lee Iacocca. DOOMED, DOOMED, DOOMED. On top of all that, they are now owned by the government which certainly doesn’t promote confidence with the public. And with all that to recommend GM, we have a bloated, self-serving dealer network that is going to Congress to FORCE GM to keep unwanted dealers. That’s called fascism, folks, and the next step is having Congress force Sears to reopen all those closed Kmart stores.

    As for Chrysler, you’re just seeing Marchionne kick some of the notoriously change-resistant US automaker executive butts. Those “status quo” folks worked well with the even more conservative folks at Daimler, but Fiat’s kingpin isn’t going to take “business as usual” with these folks. I’m sure he’ll roll quite a few more heads before he’s done. Incidentally, that’s just what GM needs, too. If a smart businessman like Roger Penske took over GM, you’d see so many heads in the basket that you’d think he was a descendant of Robespierre. How many failed GM properties has he already bought and turned around for a profit?

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