Auto Market Woes Dim Auto Show Glimmer

November 17, 2008
Market realities are forcing automakers to pull back or pull out of their crowning events: the beloved auto show. The Los Angeles Times reports that GM has nixed plans to introduce its new Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac CTS Coupe at the LA Auto Show next week; that Chrysler is forcing local dealers to pay for its presence at the show and will be revealing no new vehicles; and that Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Land Rover, and Suzuki are withdrawing from North America's premiere auto show--Detroit's North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) held this coming January.

Only one automaker has sold more cars in '08 than it did in '07, according to the L.A. Times; that manufacturer is Subaru, winner of Motor Trend's 2009 SUV of the Year award with its new 2009 Forester small SUV. But even Subaru is reducing spending, as are all automakers, bracing for tough times ahead and an '09 market that many analysts are predicting will only get tougher.

Detroit automakers have responded by cutting jobs, cutting shifts, and reducing spending wherever possible, like the huge publicity budgets that include auto shows. GM also pulled Super Bowl advertising not so long ago, and is working overtime to eliminate its massive cash burn that amounted to nearly $7 billion in the third quarter of 2008 alone. The ripple effect is profound--managers of the biggest American auto shows in L.A., Chicago, Detroit, and New York report reduced involvement and participation from major manufacturers. This, in turn, hurts ticket sales for the event, and only hints at the impact that an auto industry downturn will have on Main Street and the American economy in general.--Colin Mathews

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