'Game On' for Ford and GM Marketing Execs, Inventory Shortages Damaging and December Sales Point to Strong 2011, All in the January 10 Issue of Automotive News

Jan 07, 2011, 16:20 ET from Automotive News

DETROIT, Jan. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Three page one stories from the January 10 issue of Automotive News are previewed below.

On the eve of the North American International Auto Show, Automotive News Reporters Jamie LaReau and David Barkholz's story looks at the similarities and differences between Joel Ewanick and Jim Farley, the marketing chiefs at General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.

This year, the top two domestic automakers are stripped down to wrestle with mainly two brands: Ford vs. Chevrolet.

What's more, the two automakers now have creative and experienced marketing executives — Farley and Ewanick — to match their improving product lineups.

The two learned much of their craft outside Detroit, and have not hesitated to shake up relationships in Detroit's advertising community.   Farley made a splash with a groundbreaking social media campaign to launch the Ford Fiesta. Ewanick loves TV.

In advertising, Farley compares the Ford brand to top imports. In Ewanick's first campaign for Chevrolet, he embraces the brand's long-standing bond with American drivers.

Automotive News Reporter Donna Harris reports that automakers are tuning their allocation systems because the mix of rising sales, low inventories and lean production is increasing the pressure. They're monitoring inventory more closely and providing tools to help dealers order efficiently. Technology suppliers are working on software that helps dealers track customer demand.

Dealers say the turn-and-earn system has two basic problems:

  • It's too slow. Lag times can reach three months from order to delivery.
  • It's always fighting the last war. Deliveries reflect the realities of two or three months earlier, guaranteeing short supply in a rising market and often missing changes in consumer tastes.

Seventy-six percent of the 412 dealers responding to a recent Automotive News poll on vehicle allocation said they were losing sales because of inventory shortages. Other dealer concerns from the survey: 80 percent said they have to wait two months or more to get replacement vehicles, and 65.4 percent said the factory only checks inventory once a month.

Finally, Senior Writer Jesse Snyder reports that after an agonizingly slow start, 2010 finished with a fourth-quarter rush that convinced some automakers to raise their 2011 sales forecasts last week.

The December sales rate was the best of the year, pushing the 2010 U.S. light-vehicle total to 11.6 million units, up 11 percent from a 27-year low in 2009.   Last month's seasonally adjusted sales rate was 12.6 million units — the third straight monthly rate above 12 million.

The fourth-quarter flourish capped a turning-point kind of year. Sales came off the floor; the Japanese lost market share for the first time since 1996; and the traditional Detroit 3 brands added share for the first time since 1993.


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SOURCE Automotive News