From the Editor: Still in the Market

March 2, 2009
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Listening to the automotive company executives and industry veterans, you’d think nary a soul was planning a big purchase in these turbulent economic times, let alone buying a new vehicle. As has been reported by numerous news outlets, new car sales have significantly decreased for the auto industry, but you might never guess that by the number of interested consumers who attended this year’s Chicago Auto Show. Of course not everyone was there to buy, but a significant number seemed interested in more than just looking at the latest offerings. The most crowded area of the show was the section that housed the luxury cars that are well out of reach for the average buyer-including Maserati, Lamborghini, Bentley and Rolls-Royce.

Consumers are holding onto vehicles and putting off purchases a bit longer these days, but for those who are in a position to buy a new vehicle, the show was the one-stop-shop to compare multiple vehicles of interest. Also, for those of us enduring the harsh Chicago winter, looking at the automakers’ lineups indoors was an added bonus.

Some people were clearly there with the intent to purchase. One scoutmaster checked out several minivans with his group of scouts in tow. Attendees were asking questions of the product specialists and adding their names to mailing lists, something many wouldn’t do if they weren’t considering a purchase.

The stimulus package signed by President Obama may make it easier for some to purchase a new car. As part of the stimulus package taxpayers will be able to deduct the sales or excise taxes paid on new car purchases up to $49,500. The tax break will cover the purchase of any new car, domestic or foreign, through the end of 2009. In addition, the tax is an above-the-line deduction. Eligible taxpayers must have an annual income below $125,000 for individuals or below $250,000 for families.

National Automobile Dealers Association Chief Economist Paul Taylor is projecting 12.7 million vehicles will be sold during 2009 compared to the 13.2 million sold in 2008. He expects sales to improve in every quarter of this year with 2010 being a solid year.

Will the attendance at this year’s Chicago Auto Show translate to sales? At this point, it’s hard to say, but with all of the manufacturer and dealer rebates available, and the stimulus package incentive, it just might.

Are the incentives enough to get you out to buy a new vehicle? Share your thoughts and comments with me at campbellg@bnpmedia.com.

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Our annual Quality Leadership 100 begins on pg. 48. After you take a look at the list to see if your company is included, go to www.qualitymag.com to listen to our Q-Cast Podcasts. Managing Editor Maggie McFadden interviewed management from the top two companies, Nuclear Filter Technology of Golden, CO, and American IV Product Inc. of Harmans, MD.

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