In Paris, the show must go on
Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.
This week all eyes will turn to Paris.
Toward the end of the week there will be two days of press introductions followed by the public opening of the Paris motor show.
It will be interesting to gauge the bluster from so many companies that must be looking at the show as almost do or die.
The European automotive economy is a shambles, and each car company with a press conference probably will talk about how rosy things are for that particular company and the segments in which it competes.
It's always a wonder that when you add up the sales or profits or market share predictions for companies, the total exceeds 100 percent. Being an optimist must be a requirement for being in the automobile industry particularly if you are a sales chief or CEO. On the other hand, would shareholders expect anything less?
Make no mistake: A lot of companies are looking at bleak financials for this year and don't expect anything better next year. Some companies are admitting the potential for bad sales and financial results for the coming months.
Unfortunately, most governments are more interested in employment than in financial well-being, so many of the car companies are forced to keep open plants that should be shuttered or sold.
The economy in Europe is precarious. No one is certain just what lies ahead or is forecasting any improvement anytime soon. Some of the large multinationals have enough business in other parts of the world to shelter their losses from Europe, but for many it isn't enough.
Meanwhile, the show must go on. As always, it will be spectacular with loads of new vehicles, and again electrics will be front and center.
It's too bad the social programs in Europe are forcing most car companies to invest in technology that isn't going to have a payoff for quite a while, if ever. It is not money well spent these days, with dwindling resources and reduced revenue.
But governments don't understand the economics of the automobile business.
Then again, that's nothing new.
You can reach Keith Crain at firstname.lastname@example.org.