Last quarter forecast anyone’s guess – Press
Jim Press, vice-chairman and copresident of Chrysler LLC, says the North American economy remains so volatile he has no clue how sales will do for the last quarter of the year.
July was a disaster for the North American auto industry – the worst month in 16 years, at an seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12.5 million vehicles.
August improved a bit, to an annual rate of 13.7 million units. But that’s still a far cry from the boom days of selling 16 million to 17 million cars and trucks per year.
As a rough rule of thumb, each 250,000 in sales represents one automotive assembly plant and several thousand direct jobs. So North American sales are down the equivalent of eight to 12 assembly plants and tens of thousands of jobs.
In an address to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit a few days ago, Press said he wouldn’t hazard a guess as to how he thinks September and the rest of the year will go.
The future is so hazy, the former head of Toyota North America said, he can’t tell which way it’s going. "We can't tell if the market is going back to 13 or 14 million or down to 11 or 12 (million)…. But we haven’t fallen off the table yet.”
Clearing out the 2008 models and surviving the next three months is key for Chrysler. “We’re still within spitting distance” of sales projections, Press said.
The good news: “We don’t plan to close any more plants.”