COMMENT: Goodbye mom and pop -- the future belongs to the giants

Franz W. Rother is Editor-in-Chief of Automobilwoche

There, that's done. Another year over.

Porsche in Zuffenhausen has already finished its 2003 production and staff holidays have started in other German companies.

An eventful but slow sales year is coming to an end. 2003 is already history for us too.

In Automobilwoche's last issue of 2003 we have highlighted the main events of the year and we ask what the new year will bring.

It is a shame that I haven't got a crystal ball -- that's already in constant use by the industry's leading forecasters.

That's why I will have to rely on experience and my gut feeling.

Both signal growing optimism. After four years of recession in Germany, auto manufacturers, suppliers and dealers can expect improved sales figures in 2004.

That is provided that the politicians do their work and continue to push ahead with economic reforms in Germany.

We need steady economic conditions in Germany once more. Only then can Germans calculate when they will be able to afford a new car again.

The auto industry tried everything possible to whet customers' appetites at the IAA in Frankfurt.

The debuts still to come in the next few months will also do their bit to increase consumers' desire for new cars.

However, many car dealers will not be able to benefit.

The reorganization of the European sales regulations by EU competition chief Mario Monti; negotiations with manufacturers over new dealer contracts and an increasing number of auto sellers who are not part of the industry were reasons why a large number of so called "mom and pop businesses" threw in the towel in frustration.

It is increasingly becoming evident that the future belongs to the giants.

This goes for both trade and suppliers and especially for the original equipment anufacturers.

Only one thing comforts me: The consolidation of the auto industry will give us at Automobilwoche many headlines.

Tags: Automakers

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