European automakers are preparing a lot of intriguing cars and light trucks for the United States - and not a moment too soon.
For the first time since 1993, sales of European models are on a down-slope in this country. In the first seven months of this year, sales totaled 658,456, off 3.9 percent from the year-ago period.
There's plenty of time to erase that deficit and chalk up the 11th consecutive annual gain. That's why the new models are so important.
In the 10 "up" years (1994-2003), the Europeans increased their U.S. sales from 317,546 to 1,193,230.
But this year has been difficult. Modest rebates compared with those of the Big 3 may be a factor as European importers wrestle with strong currencies vs. the dollar.
Volkswagen Division, the European sales leader in this country, was off 11.5 percent to 151,934. But even when VW and its aging product lineup are excluded from the total, the Europeans were down 1.4 percent compared with 2003.
Through July, seven of the 10 major brands suffered declines. The three gainers were BMW, Porsche and Volvo, and the advances for all three resulted from SUV sales.