Plymouth Rock's thoughts on the comeback of the U.S. auto industry
Detroit rebound? The 2012 Auto Show and the comeback of the American auto industry.
Not a single truck or large SUV was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show this year—a sign that the American auto industry has changed “deeply, quickly, and probably forever” as Peter Valdes-Depena put it in his column for CNN Money. Valdes-Depena attributes this quantum shift to new, stricter fuel economy laws and “changing attitudes toward environmental responsibility.”
In addition to these greening trends and new fuel economy regulations, auto industry journalist and blogger Paul A. Eisenstein predicted 2012’s winners, losers and trends for the auto industry, saying that “The playing field has clearly shifted. For some, it might now seem to be level for the first time in decades. For others, it is listing like the Costa Concordia, the doomed Italian cruise ship.”
Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami, followed by floods in Thailand nearly stopped Toyota and Honda in their tracks, with a combined estimate of one million vehicles in lost production. The Motor City’s rebound, initially jump-started by the federal government’s industry bailout, got an additional boost as Japanese automakers struggled to recover. The one Japanese exception? Nissan, which racked up surprisingly strong sales of its Versa, Altima, Rouge and Frontier models last year. Korean “wildcard” carmakers Kia and Hyundai also did well, and predicted difficulties maintaining their sales momentum if production levels continued to struggle to keep up with demand.
Chrysler took a turn for the better in 2011, with several popular smaller models inspired in no small part by its majority owner, Italy’s Fiat. In the luxury market, Cadillac and Ford’s re-launch of its Lincoln brand created some serious buzz at the Detroit show. But they’ll have a tough battle from the German giants BMW and Volkswagen’s Audi.
We’ll see what’s in store for Detroit and the other automakers as 2012 shapes up. One thing is certain: change is the only constant we can rely on.
Headquartered in Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation provides auto insurance to personal and commercial auto insurance customers in MA and CT. Plymouth Rock is the flagship carrier of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowner’s insurance throughout the Northeast.