Bad habits are surfacing again
Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.
I guess it was wishful thinking.
Everyone figured that after the financial crisis of the past few years, no one, neither factory nor dealer, would fall back into the same traps that were prevalent before the bottom fell out of the car business.
Dealers all over the country realized they could make more money by running a tight ship, and the factories realized it didn't make sense to pump out vehicles if they had to spend a lot of money to move them off dealers' lots.
Everyone seemed to understand the perils of the old ways and knew it made more sense to run the wholesale and retail business in an orderly manner.
But, whatever the reason, it didn't take long for all those bad habits to surface again.
It's sad to see stair-step incentives rear their ugly head again. They were particularly nasty incentives that kept manufacturers and dealers in confusion and chaos.
I understand that after a few years of lousy results everyone at every manufacturer is under the gun to perform, whatever that means.
All you had to do was add up the sales predictions made at the last car show to realize that the total U.S. sales prediction is around 25 million cars and trucks. Every company plans to increase its market share by at least 10 percent. There wasn't a loser in the crowd.
I am afraid that there are too many careers on the line, and when that happens, no one is worried about collateral damage.
Sadly, we'll probably see a lot of the old habits pop up again -- in rapid-fire order. It may be impossible to withstand the temptation to fall into all the old habits.
Although things were looking pretty good for 14 million-plus units this year, there are a lot of ambitious plans that mean doing whatever is necessary to see sales and market share improve.
Too bad. It was nice while it lasted.
You can reach Keith Crain at firstname.lastname@example.org.