Incentives are just a short-term fix, congress speakers warn

Key facts
  • What: Automotive News World Congress

  • When: Jan. 14-17, 2002

  • Where: Hyatt Regency Dearborn, Dearborn, Mich.

  • Extras: Gala dinner Wednesday, Jan 16. Tour of the North American International Auto Show Thursday, Jan. 17

  • Cost: $1,195 early-bird registration before Dec. 1; daily fee, $695

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  • Propped up by 0 percent financing, vehicle sales have remained strong. November sales were up 7.5 percent over last year.

    But both Mazda CEO Mark Fields and Morgan Stanley analyst Steve Girsky caution against relying on finance incentives to sell vehicles, and both predict softer sales for next year. Fields and Girsky will speak at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit in January.

    Fields says Mazda is on track, but he isn't bullish about 2002.

    "We're not sitting back and saying, 'Oh, there's going to be real robust growth around the world.' I think it would bedangerous for us to do that," he said.

    Although still in the midst of a major restructuring, Mazda a small profit this year. Ford Motor Co. owns a 33.8 percent stake in the Japanese automaker. Mazda has the green light to produce Ford's next global four-cylinder engine, which will appear in a variety of vehicles, including the Ford Rangerand the new Mazda 6, which replaces the 626 next year.

    Fields will speak Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 9 a.m.

    Girsky says consumers are concerned about the economy because of the September terrorist attacks and are wary about purchasing vehicles.

    "This is going to hurt. How much is not known," Girsky, a senior analyst on the Morgan Stanley global automotive research team, told Automotive News after the attacks. "Consumer confidence was already weakening."

    Girsky will speak the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 16.

    The 15-year veteran analyst has been named the top automotive analyst in Institutional Investor's poll for nine consecutive years.

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