17 Million in sales predicted for 2015, here we go…

Things have been looking up in the US market for the automotive industry lately.

Sales have been improving.  November was strong with most companies showing significant gains and one, Hyundai, blowing past everyone else with a +46% increase over same period year ago.  Some marques like Audi are predicting that they will achieve new sales records in 2010 and break the 100,000 unit mark for the first time.  It looks like we’ll finish the year at about 11.5MM units, up about a million over 2009.  Next year sales are expected to improve to 12.8MM.

The LA Auto Show was up beat; there were a number of new and exciting products shown (my personal favorite was the Audi quattro concept).  The sense of the industry moving forward was palpable; it was good to be there.  Then of course there’s GM’s successful IPO, where investor interest was so strong that the share price exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Even more important, the industry has made important progress during the worst recession within memory.  Given the widely held view in 2008 that we were entering a “new normal” with significantly lower industry sales, manufacturers took steps (some with taxpayer help) to reduce production capacity, which has led to dramatically lower inventories at the dealer level.  In turn, lower inventories combined with better product quality have led to lower incentives and higher margins.  Some manufacturers (BMW, Fiat) are even attempting to encourage consumers to order cars and wait for delivery as Americans become accustom to lower inventory levels and the idea that the car they want won’t be on the lot.

Sales on the rise, higher margins, lower inventories, Americans ordering cars, what’s not to like?  Nothing, all good news, until…

Last Thursday when Michael Robinet of IHS Automotive predicted that:  “U.S. automotive industry sales could top 17 million by 2015.”

I couldn’t help but think of the current Bud Lite campaign, the one where guys are behaving in a relatively reasonable fashion until they are confronted with a quantity of Bud Lite:

17 million sales!?… Here we go.  Here we go as an industry, losing our minds and acting irrationally.  Using the MDIBTYD method of sales forecasting.  VW has made no bones about its goal of being the largest global manufacturer and I’m certain others would like to prevent that from happening.

We all know what happens.  Sales forecasts increase, production is increased, inventories increase, use of incentives increase and margins decrease.  The real shame is that all the progress that the industry has made in the last couple of years could easily be erased if we chase volume.

I understand the importance of volume given high fixed costs.  I also recognize that predicting sales and production is a high wire act and I don’t mean to diminish the difficulty of those deliberations.

But it does seem to me, that the industry’s default position has been to chase volume.  I hope that this time we restrain ourselves and consider the possibility that slower more deliberate growth, will result in stronger higher margin businesses that are better prepared for the next downturn.  Another happy outcome would be stronger brands and a customer base that is not built on the backs of the bottom feeders looking for commodity pricing.

Let’s hope that when the MDIBTYD forecasting method is being used, that cooler heads prevail.  Here we go….

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16 Responses to “17 Million in sales predicted for 2015, here we go…”

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  14. Cameron says:

    That’s when the egos start doing the sales forecasting, it’s the My Dick Is Bigger Than Your Dick method. Thanks for asking and reading.

  15. P Campbell says:

    OK maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t know but what on earth is the “MDIBTYD method of sales forecasting”?

  16. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cameron McNaughton, Cameron McNaughton. Cameron McNaughton said: 17 million sales!? Auto industry may act irrationally and use MDIBTYD method of sales forecasting: http://wp.me/pGyRI-nW […]

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