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What's the next move for GM?

General Motors has had a brilliant 0 percent financing promotion for the past several weeks, which has shown that Americans are still interested in buying cars. They just want a big bargain.

Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler group fell in line and also are benefiting from it.

Just about everyone saw October sales skyrocket far beyond expectations.

It's an understatement to say that it has been a good time for car and truck sales.

Although it has been good for retailers and has kept production running and suppliers working, it has been a tough financial time for automobile manufacturers.

And, like all good things, sooner or

later, 0 percent financing will come to an end.

There are optimists who say the gains came from sales to reluctant shoppers who had postponed their purchases while they waited for a sales opportunity.

Others - and they seem to be the majority - say that these promotions, although successful, have just pulled future customers into the market early and that when those promotions end, the car market will fall substantially.

We'll see who is right when GM and the others end 0 percent financing.

The beauty of GM's most recent promotion is its utter simplicity. Zero percent financing is about as simple as you can get. It doesn't need any explanation of the small print.

It's nice to see GM acting as the industry's price leader again. GM was the price leader for a long time, although not for the past few decades.

Now GM again must decide what it wants to do, and others will follow.

I haven't heard any predictions

that car and truck sales will be anywhere near what they have been for the past couple of years.

The Big 3 are fighting for profitability because their breakeven point has risen from about 14 million annual sales to about 16 million sales. That makes a downturn even more difficult for Detroit's automakers.

It'll be interesting to see what GM and the other automakers have planned for the consumer after 0 percent financing.

And it will be interesting to see what is in store for the U.S. auto industry during the next 12 months.

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