February is a good month normally for the cupid types but for the auto industry this year, little love has been dished out. Of all the auto companies, only American Honda Motor Co, Daimler AG and Nissan North America have penciled in a gain in sales for this month, yet for the year only Honda and Daimler remain solvent so far.
This February has seen a dramatic drop in sales of SUVs as the bite of high gasoline prices rip into the family budget but Porsche beg to differ with their truck sales exploding to a 109.7% over the same period last year. This anomaly is at the expense of their car division which dropped 40.3% over last year leaving the sports-car company down 12.8% for the month of February.
With every auto manufacturer feeling the economic pinch, total sales in North America for the year are down by a 120,000 units or 5.3% so far, so what does this all mean for us the clay modeler.
As the auto industry continues its downward spiral with less sales and ultimately less profit we could find the purse strings being tightened even further. That means design facilities could well see overtime reduced to save on premium payments but not necessary less work to be done. Programs could be reduced, shelved or even cancelled as the product planning groups rethink their strategy on the best product to pursue whilst indecision on current programs reduces productivity to a crawl. All this negativity on the economy will put a strain on the creative juices especially when a winning design is needed right now to gain maximum traction.
Currently the new product lead time is from 36 to 48 months before it hits the road and for some that may be too late. Take for instance the Chevy Camaro that debut at the NAIAS in January 2006 and is on the fast track to hit showrooms as a 2009 model year. Will this vehicle still have the massive following that it had early on when fuel was only $2.00 a gallon, by the time it does become available that $2.00 could well be doubled.
The new vehicle programs that have just finished, are they the right product? Typically in times of uncertainty studios have ramped up their development programs because the right product is not always clear cut leading to many iterations of a theme, demand is usually greater for sculptors, designers and engineers. Product development cannot afford to go on the back burner in fear of losing even more market share to the competitors, it is a vicious circle, so for the clay modeler I can see boom times ahead once more.
February may have been another bad sales month because of all the underlying problems but development must go on so let’s lighten up and check out some of the fun videos on YouTube.com. A bit of fun and plenty of laughter goes a long way in cheering you up and with the beginnings of a new week just around the corner, who knows, there may even be some good news!