If it's heresy for an automotive retailer to call for lower manufacturers' incentives, smaller inventories and lower volume, then I will be burned at the stake. It's a risk worth taking to restore sanity to the world of automotive retailing.
Let me first say that I agree with most of the decisions industry leaders made after 9/11. General Motors led the way, quickly joined by Ford and the Chrysler group, taking bold action with record incentives and increased production. Retailers did their part by embracing manufacturers' efforts and stocking huge inventories.
Ultimately, that cooperation generated an astonishing level of success and sustained unit sales at the 16 million-plus pace that began in 1999. It was a remarkable achievement that invigorated not only our industry during a challenging time but the U.S. economy as well.
Still, important questions lingered: What would the endgame be? If consumers grew accustomed to those unprecedented incentives, would they ever accept anything less?