Once again, most of the North American auto business has shut down between Christmas and New Year's Day. Factories and offices are closed, and assembly lines have stopped.
But don't think for a minute that this industry is closed.
As always, there are thousands of auto dealerships open and ready for business. They are there to sell someone a new car or truck as a late Christmas present or to make a repair for a holiday traveler -- the same things dealers do during the other 51 weeks of the year. The automobile business is alive and well this week.
If you want to figure out just how important franchised new-car dealers are to their communities, this is the perfect week.
How many times this week will a family traveling for the holidays have the car break down a long way from home? How many times will they discover that the local dealer can fix the car and have them on their way with little or no fuss? It's reassuring when you discover a local dealer that services the brand you are driving and is able to fix the problem without a hitch.
And there is nothing more fun than to see a whole family show up at a local dealership during the week when the industry is supposedly closed and shop for a new car. That's a family decision everyone participates in.
The holidays are also a great time to get that minor fender-bender fixed. The body shop may not be busy and it has the parts and skills to do the repair in a hurry.
Keeping the wheels turning in North America is a full-time job. It goes on seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
America runs on cars, and thousands of dealerships are open for business even when the factories and the importers shut down.
Let's hope that this nation's auto retailers can get all the credit they need next year for their business and their customers. With credit more available and the introduction of a lot of exciting cars and trucks, we just might find ourselves with a decent sales volume in 2010.
May everyone have a prosperous New Year.