NEW YORK -- Can automakers keep production at realistic levels and avoid the need to push vehicles at dealers and throw generous spiffs at customers?
In short, can automakers exercise some discipline and stay on the wagon? George Magliano, director of automotive research for IHS Global Insight, told an audience last week at a conference sponsored by his company and the National Automobile Dealers Association that incentive spending would be "intense" for at least the first half of 2010 as automakers fight for market share. "The consumer is responding," he said.
"Everything is up for grabs," he said.
And for Fiat boss and Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne, that's part of the problem. Marchionne said he is worried that short-term sales gains and a growing U.S. economic recovery will prompt the industry to slack off from efforts to cut costs and production.
"Recovery is the opiate of restructuring industries," he said at the conference.
"History will look at this moment as the decisive one," he said. "Will we be content to stick with a business model that has deep and unsustainable structural flaws? ... We have no intention of wasting this opportunity."