2013 Detroit auto show with Warren Brown and John Batchelor

2013 Detroit auto show with Warren Brown and John Batchelor

Sales in the United States are going strong with projections of over 15 million unit’s to be sold in 2013 by both J.D. Power and Polk. But Europe is struggling. We have heard that Spain and Italy are in trouble, that Russia has lost it’s footing, but now automobile executives are openly talking about Germany going into a recession. Is that a reality? Steve Girsky thinks it could be.

GM Vice Chairman, interim President of GM Europe and Chairman of the Opel Supervisory Board talked to Lou Ann Hammond, CEO, www.drivingthenation.com, talked to Girsky at the Corvette unveil the night before the opening of the Detroit auto show. When asked about Europe Girsky gave a report card of each of the countries; the march in Germany is slowing down, France, Spain and Italy have not found a bottom yet, Russia is slowing down, UK is looking a little better.

When Girsky was asked if Germany is going into a recession? Girsky was concerned, “It’s close, borderline. The car market is sloppy, the retail buyer has sort of stepped away for awhile. There are incremental challenge to meeting plans, shortened work weeks could help in short term only, but the demand will get weaker in 2013 as sales will be down versus 2012”.

Germany going into recession? I had to follow-up, to see if what the other car executives thought. The other executives were within a decibel point of Girsky. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and Nissan, said he didn’t think so, but predicted that Europe would be “3% down in 2013, compared to 2012 when the market went down 8%.” Ghosn did acknowledge that “the German car market won’t be good if the rest of the European market is down”.

I ran into Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne and asked him about Germany going into a recession. Marchionne could see it happen. As the chairman of ACEA, the European automakers lobby group, Marchionne has called for consolidation of the European automobile industry and a contraction in production capacity across the board. I asked Marchionne if there has been any movement in reducing the over capacity in Europe. He said no.

Batchelor asked Brown about Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, known as the Big three.

We then talked about Continental’s autonomous vehicle plans for the future.

About the Author:

L ou Ann Hammond has a work history in the energy and transportation field. Starting with Chevron Corp. in finance and accounting from 1978 to 1986. Hammond was exposed to the accounting, selling, management, and transportation of petroleum and all the alternative energies Chevron explored for during the turbulent 1970s. Hammond is the founder and owner of the first privately owned automobile website www.carlist.com. Carlist is the longest running used car database, since 1986, even prior to the Internet. Hammond's most recent website, www.drivingthenation.com, covers a broader range of subjects than solely the automotive or the energy industry. Driving the Nation encompasses both automotive and energy issues to show the audience how dependent we are on both. Hammond's varied background in the petroleum and automotive industry gives her an analyst insight into the myriad levels of automobile and energy topics.