In N.Y., cars consumers actually want to buy

The automotive sales climate is quite different on the different sides of the Atlantic Ocean -- and the auto shows in Europe and the United States show it.

The European auto market continues to crater, to put it bluntly. With the stream of unsettling financial news, European consumers seem reluctant to buy new vehicles, even if they can afford them.

Yet the recent Geneva auto show seemed like a willful exercise in reality denial. The cluster of cars with price tags in the six and seven figures (dollars or euros, take your pick) was stunning. The $3.9 million Lamborghini Veneno was merely the most extreme example in the parade of Ferraris, Rolls-Royces and the like.

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, auto sales are climbing steadily. Most likely, U.S. light-vehicle sales this year will top 15 million units -- nothing like the 17 million totals in 2000 and 2001, but healthy.

So what do you see on the New York vehicle debut lineup? There’s a bit of glitter -- the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, for instance -- but nothing like Geneva.

High-end brands such as Cadillac, Infiniti and Land Rover are represented. But mostly there are a bunch of bread-and-butter vehicles: Acura MDX, Buick LaCrosse, Dodge Durango, Honda Odyssey, Jeep Cherokee and Toyota Highlander, to name a few.

Maybe it’s a fluke of product cadence. Or maybe the New York debuts focus more on cars regular folks buy because regular folks in this country are buying cars.

You can reach Dave Guilford at

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