Most folks would tell you that the Chrysler group is doing pretty well. Look at Dodge, Chrysler and that good, old - or new - Hemi, and you see product that consumers are interested in buying.
Ford Division is increasing its estimate of what consumers will buy from its dealers. We're not sure how the optimism will pan out in the marketplace, but Ford has enthusiasm and plenty of motivation.
No one would discount Toyota Motor and all its success. Toyota, Lexus and now Scion have plenty to be excited about for the New Year.
Honda is getting up there as well, and Nissan is back in the fracas.
And General Motors feels good. In spite of a couple of stumbles, GM executives are confident about their brands and the future.
There are many confident folks in the marketplace; it doesn't matter whether they're from Germany, Japan, Korea or the good old U.S.A. Everybody looks forward to next year.
So what makes all those car companies so optimistic?
Everyone is talking about product. New products have been flowing into the pipeline for the past few months, and the flow will accelerate well into next year.
No one talks about how great marketing will make the difference next year. I haven't heard anyone bragging about how pricing, which is another word for rebates, will give them huge market share improvements. Quality is a given. It keeps you in the game, and God help you if you don't have it.
No, it's simply the product. All the automakers are convinced that their new products will be the difference between success and failure in the marketplace. And they are probably right.
You can't always predict which products will be winners or losers, but there is no doubt that product will determine the winners.
Nissan's resurgence is a function of product. Cadillac's recent success is all about product.
This is a business of products. Give your dealers exciting new products and see what happens to your market share.
The challenge begins when everyone has exciting products. That's when it really gets interesting.