Most forecasters missed 2000 sales by a mile. At this time last year, the average 2000 forecast for this group was 16.2 million light vehicles. That will fall short of the actual market by about 1.2 million units. But the same group insists that sales will decline in 2001. Here are some of the forecasters' comments on 2000 and 2001:
'It's pretty hard to see a dramatic pullback for incentives (in 2001). Next year the truck market becomes more of an incentive wild card because trucks historically have had less incentives.'
General Motors general director of global market and industry analysis
'We've already begun to see, in terms of production, some consolidation and some cuts, to be sure supply is in line with demand. That might take some pressure off from yet another leg down on pricing.'
Ford Motor Co. manager of corporate economics
'I hope the industry will act fairly rationally in allowing industry sales to come down, which is what, after all, they want to happen. Sales have been prevented from doing that by rising incentives.'
Van Bussmann DaimlerChrysler corporate economist
'I appear to have been wise enough not to put a 2000 forecast in print (last year) ...'
Paul Taylor, National Automobile Dealers Association chief economist
'When volume is declining, you can't cut costs fast enough. Profits always go down substantially more than units.'
Scott Merlis, Wasserstein Perella Securities Inc. analyst
'We believe increasingly competitive pressures will continue to weigh on the Big 3 well into the next year. With a pullback on incentives, we expect light-vehicle sales to decline, especially at General Motors and DaimlerChrysler.'
Steve Girsky, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Inc. analyst
'This was the year of the great price wars ... . That's how you get record vehicle sales, yet the automakers are being hammered.'
Diane Swonk, Bank One Corp. chief economist
'People have bought an awful lot of cars. I don't think there are that many people left.'
Cynthia Latta, Standard & Poor's DRI chief U.S. economist
'For 2001, two or three factors have to change to keep the sales decline to just 5 percent. You're going to have to have a reversal of factors that right now are hurting the market. And that's not a for-sure thing by any means.'
Jim Meil, Eaton Corp. chief economist