I remember when life was simpler and there were three big car companies in the U.S.
Sure, American Motors sold some cars, as did Volkswagen, and a few thousand more cars were sold by Mercedes, Porsche and Max Hoffman's BMW. But the Big 3 were dominant.
Mind you, there were plenty of brands to choose from back then. General Motors had six or so, Ford had three and Chrysler used to talk about its six-pack.
Since then we have seen many brands come and go. They tried, and they gave up: Peugeot, Renault, Sterling, Daewoo, Daihatsu and others. For one month back in the day, I recall, Fiat even sold the most imported cars in the U.S. Volvo once made cars in Canada.
Today the landscape is cluttered with European, Asian and American vehicles. There are dozens of brands, and the nameplates number in the hundreds.
So is it true that there is really always room for one more?
VW's Skoda brand is lurking, looking for an opportunity to establish a beachhead. And Hyundai just launched a luxury brand, Genesis, 30 years or so after it started selling cars in this country. China's Geely wants to come to the U.S. with a brand called Lynk & Co.
Indeed, China is the elephant in the room, although we have been waiting for the Chinese carmakers to arrive here en masse for five years or more.
And there are plenty of other brands waiting to take the plunge. At every international show around the world, the gossip is always about who is going to dive off the board straight into the U.S. market. It takes millions and millions of dollars, lots of dealers, products, of course, and pricing that is unique. Yet there is probably a line forming on the right.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of dealers more than willing to build another store for the newest brand. They are always looking for a new opportunity.
It is too crowded in the U.S. for another car company. But, yes, there always seems to be room for just one more.
You may email Keith Crain at [email protected]