Monday, May 3, 2010

Wait-and-See vs. One-and-Done

Car shoppers take a wait-and-see approach in April

DETROIT (AP) -- U.S. car shoppers took a wait-and-see approach in April. They eased up on purchases as the lure of big incentives faded and hoped summer would bring a new flurry of deals.

And we know there's a decent supply of wait-and-see car shoppers because? Anyone?

"We're seeing an increase in construction jobs, we're seeing homes built starting to improve. With that you also see pickup truck sales starting to improve," he said.

The BLS report shows that 15,000 construction jobs were added in March. If 10% of those workers buy new pickups, that's 1,500 pickups. That's roughly 30 pickups per state. If we split those sales between the top five pickup manufacturers... um, maybe I should just stop the math here. 6 is the perfect number.

"We'll be judicious with our incentives," said Steve Carlisle, GM's new vice president of sales. "We'll be competitive but not foolish."

That would be refreshing. It's like my dad always told me. Son, you can always trust a NEW vice president of sales to tell it like it is. Okay. Okay. Maybe he didn't tell me that. I'm just trying to be optimistic.

Cash for Clunkers succeeded, but results but hard to measure, GAO says

Cash for Clunkers, the unofficial name of the government stimulus program last summer that gave incentives up to $4,500 to 680,000 people who traded in old gas guzzlers for new efficient cars, generally succeeded in its goals, the General Accounting Office says in a report issued today. But it says it has a hard time measuring the degree of that success.

I'm going to go way out on the limb and suggest that the type of person who traded in a clunker for a new car is generally not the type of person who likes to buy a new car every couple of years. If true, then many of those 680,000 people are one-and-done.

As tempted as I was to trade in my 1996 Camry for a new car, I declined to have the government pay me to destroy it. It has less than 80,000 miles on it. It still drives great. I expect to be still driving it many years from now. In fact, the higher the price of oil and/or gasoline goes, the longer my car will last. Why? I'll no doubt find new ways to drive it even less.

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