It’s time to pass out a few bouquets, and I bestow my heartiest congratulations on the Detroit auto show, more formally known as the North American International Auto Show.
It was a rip-roaring success from every angle, and I commend the sponsors (The Detroit Auto Dealers Association), the planners, the exhibitors and, most of all, the 770,000 visitors who trekked to Cobo Centerto view the magnificent metal.
I’m a native Detroiter, and it feels mighty good to write something nice about my down-and-out, flat-broke town.
I’m not through passing out kudos. I congratulate everyone concerned for making this a car and truck show, not a green show as this and other exhibitions have become in recent years.
I don’t hate green vehicles. I would simply like to see them receive only the plaudits, publicity and praise that their position in the industry deserves. And that’s not very much.
Last year 268,808 hybrid vehicles were sold in this country, according to hybridcars.com. That was 2.1 percent of the car-truck market. Not exactly an imposing performance.
And 136,463 of those 268,808 sales were Toyota Prius models. That’s 50.8 percent of the total. How about squelching the publicity barrage until the cars are worthy of the mention? Until the rest of the industry learns what Toyota already knows about selling hybrids.
Don’t expect that info to come from Toyota. After all, did Macy’s tell Gimbels; does Budweiser tell Coors?
Sales of electric cars give them even less right than hybrids to be included in any publicity barrage. Hybridcars.com found only 17,813 sales last year for the four electrics that disclose numbers: Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, Mitsubishi i and Smart EV. That’s about one-third of 1 percent of car sales.
The Prius is the only alternative-power nameplate that would survive if the manufacturers were to apply the usual guidelines for keeping or dropping a model. Last year’s 136,463 Prius sales weren’t bad in today’s world, but it was eons away from the million-plus Impala models Chevrolet dealers were delivering each year back in the mid-1960s
A million Impalas
One million Impalas a year? Right on! You could look it up. Just as I did.
It may not be at all tied together, but have you noticed how Ford has been whompin’ Chevrolet’s butt in their personal sales race ever since 2009 when Chevy (as part of General Motors) sought protection under Chapter 11?
Chevy outsold Ford in 2008 although both Detroit brands took a back seat to Toyota. It was the same result in 2009 (Toyota on top), but Ford beat Chevy in 2009 by 102,041.
Move forward to 2010 and Ford won by 188,630. It boosted its edge to 281,408 last year.
The parent company’s financial machinations probably don’t have too much to do with a car salesman’s proficiency in the showroom, but there is at least one question that the Ford guy will never have to answer:
"Say, tell me. How did you guys ever manage to go bankrupt?"
You can reach John K, Teahen Jr. by e-mail at [email protected]