Saturday, December 13, 2008

Three Observations from a Car Dealership

This morning I took my Honda Odyssey mini-van in for a regularly scheduled maintenance and was pretty surprised by what I saw. I know that things are bad for the auto industry, but it doesn't make it any less shocking to see.

1. The showroom was empty. I think there were two actual customers in the showroom and about 8 sales people. Everyone else was passing the time while they waited for the service department. I was browsing the new model year cars and was approached by two sales people. This is from a dealership where it takes forever to get service on a Saturday afternoon. It makes me think we're a long way from the bottom in this economy.

2. They are sitting on a lot of inventory. I overheard one of the sales people tell a customer that they would do "just about anything to move '08 models". He went on to say that they were sitting on so much '08 inventory that they couldn't actually take delivery on '09 inventory. Wow. You know it's bad if Honda is offering discounts to move inventory. Imagine what its like at a Chrysler dealership. Then I thought, it might be a great time to buy a car.

3. Honda goes out of its way to act American. I noticed on the window sticker, very prominently displayed, a line that said Engine Assembly: USA, Final Vehicle Assembly: Maryville, OH. Even if the Big Three do go into bankruptcy, I don't think the American automotive business is dead. The cars are designed in Japan, but they're put together here by US workers.

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