First, you need floor traffic

Hats off to General Motors.

It understood quickly that it had to do something to generate showroom traffic. Whether it is offering the biggest rebate ever isn't important.

What is important is that GM is pitching something that sounds like the biggest deal ever. Even Alan Greenspan hasn't figured out how to get interest rates below 3 percent.

Offering zero percent financing for three or five years is a bold marketing effort. If it doesn't build traffic, I think the entire U.S. autoindustry is going to be in for a really tough time.

It was smart for Ford to jump on the bandwagon quickly. Even though Ford jumped a day after GM, the American consumer won't know the difference.

And although Chrysler was certainly reluctant, it was wise enough to get on board as well. The alternative wasn't going to be pretty. DaimlerChrysler and its dealers finally figured that out for themselves.

Now all we can hope is that it works and draws people into showrooms across the nation.

I hear that showroom traffic slowly is returningto normal. That has to be a good thing for a lot of dealers who probably have been spending their time playing gin rummy.

We might as well write off any results for September. We can only hope that October gets on track.

We probably can forget about a great year after all. Things have been tough in Detroit all year, and now they're even tougher.

The country and automobile industry have had a rough few weeks. It's anybody's guess what will happen to the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter, and everybody seems to have a different forecast. They all have a fairly good chance of being right - or wrong.

Things are too confusing for any sort of accurate forecasting. It doesn't matter whether you sell shoes or convertibles, there isn't any history to give us an idea of what to expect.

It's time for the sales and marketing gurus to show their stuff. No one can change the product mix quickly, so it's "run what you brung."

It will take creativity like that which GM showed to get through all this.

It's not business as usual, but it's still business.

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