Wednesday, 21 December 2011

More TrueCar

TrueCar.Com Truly Infuriates Many Dealers
by David Ruggles, Dec 19, 2011 8:58 AM
Scott Painter says he wants to help dealers sell more cars. So why is the founder of under attack by auto-retail people on social-network blogs and elsewhere?
Painter contends he is the dealer's friend when selling them his Zag/TrueCar lead-generation program. Then he says he is the consumer's friend in their price battles with dealers. Is it possible to take both sides of the same issue at the same time? He also says he wants to transform the industry by "commoditizing" new vehicles, which eliminates the need for salespeople and marginalizes losses. Have we been down this road before?
TrueCar has grown dramatically, making enough inroads to raise $200 million from venture-capital investors with which the firm promptly purchased Automotive Leasing Guide, the industry's highest-profile residual value predictor.
In a nutshell, TrueCar as an online lead provider offers dealers a deal that seems hard to refuse. They only pay for online leads that are closed as sales.
In the fine print is an agreement to give TrueCar access to information in dealership management systems. After all, how will TrueCar know how much to bill at the end of the month for the closed and delivered leads without verification?
But the firm also harvests data, in particular transaction-pricing information that TrueCar shares with car consumers visiting its website. After seeing what other people paid for the same vehicles they are interested in, they can make an offer.
Painter says that pricing data does not come from DMS units. Even if it doesn't, it puts additional pressure on dealers under the guise of providing "a public service." Is there another industry where consumers feel they have the right to know a seller's actual true costs?
Scott Painter under fire from dealers.
Eventually dealership people, led by Jeff Kershner, figured out what was going on.< Now, an industry movement is swelling against TrueCar. There is plenty of information on industry social-network blogs, with more being added by the minute. Hundreds of people have weighed in. Jim Ziegler's blog has had more than 12,000 views.
"There really is only one way to stop this nonsense with vendors," says dealer Tamara Darvish of the Darcars Automotive Group in Maryland. That requires "a gentleman's agreement" among dealers not to exchange DMS data for leads, she says. "Unfortunately, greed and ignorance often take priority with some, rather than logic and long-term planning."
TrueCar's Devin LaCrosse provides the other side of the story. By enabling participating dealers to provide upfront, no-haggle price quotes, TrueCar has helped over 5,500 dealers nationwide sell over 400,000 new and used vehicles, he says. TrueCar lowers dealership selling costs "by providing high-quality customers and no need for haggling, and provides free transaction-based pricing data to help dealers price vehicles scientifically."
Some would say TrueCar is not incrementally increasing vehicle-sales volume, just lowering dealers' gross profits. Some dealers are doing more volume at the expense of others, but there is no evidence more vehicles are sold. Kershner, Ziegler and others think dealers unwittingly are enabling Painter to transform the auto business based on his perception of how it should operate.
Why are dealers going along with what seems like a self-defeating initiative? Many were caught unaware. They need to thoroughly read their contract with TrueCar. Dealers who have just learned what is happening are up in arms. Many are as angry at themselves as they are with Painter and his firm.
Everyone can draw their own conclusions. But some people are taking it very seriously. Ziegler calls it "the Battle of Armageddon for car dealers."
WardsAuto Dealer Business columnist David Ruggles is a former dealership general manager.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The War with TrueCar

Open Letter to the Automotive Industry from Scott Painter, Founder & CEO of TrueCar, Inc.
Responses by Ruggles
Monday, December 12, 2011 12:01 am
Painter: Our world is changing. Unprecedented access to information and a massive shift in consumer behavior has resulted in a challenging new automotive retail landscape. It has also enabled a consumer appetite for data transparency. To hide from evolving consumer behavior is to deny change. At TrueCar, we embrace this opportunity. We also believe that transparency is the centerpiece of trusting relationships. Some in the industry disagree. We would like to make our position clear.
Ruggles:Transparency is NOT the objective of auto dealers. Survival is, followed by net profit. It takes gross profit to have some net profit left over at month end. Is there another industry where consumers feel they have the right to know a seller's actual true costs? What gives consumers the right to that information in the first place? Providing transparency is NOT your only aim – making money in the doing is! The behaviour by consumers wanting to know a car dealer's bare costs is NOT something new. In 1970 credit unions would arm their members with "dealer cost." There were books available on every news stand. The delivery of the information is what is different.
If you want total transparency, give consumers actual bare cost down to net net net. Then allow the negotiation to be based on the gross profit, say a thousand or two. Do you really think consumers understand gross profit? Do they understand the expenses that are paid out of gross profit? More importantly, do they care?
Over the course of time car dealers have had their margins trimmed dramatically by their OEMs. When I started in the business the margin on large cars was 22.5% with a 2.5% hold back. "Trunk money" was available only for special promotions, but it was nowhere near as prevalent as today. The profit a dealer makes these days has moved to "trunk money," as the dramatically narrowed margin and increased availability of information to consumers has dictated it. And you are looking to disclose this information as if consumers have some kind of inherent right to it.
The auto business is a business of negotiation. AND consumers can shop. Consumers aren't bound by the same rules that auto dealers are. You seem to be saying that you would like to remove the negotiation aspect of the business while making money for your own company in the doing. It's not like you are performing some needed public service. You think an "efficient" market for new vehicles is good for everyone? How does that jive with the dealer, who has made substantial investment, making a reasonable return? If they don't, who will be around to provide other essential services to the consumer? The factory?
You're a business man and have closed some deals where negotiation has been required to reach agreement. You also know that in negotiation if neither party gets their feathers ruffled at some point, money has been left on the table. I suspect that in your very best negotiations, you negotiated without appearing to negotiate at all. I suspect that is how you have gotten so many dealers to sign on initially. That might even be how you gathered in $200 million in venture capital. I take my cap off to you for being such an artful negotiator. But don't in the same breath talk about transparency. Your objective is to make your deal while adopting the APPEARANCE of transparency as a negotiating tactic. How do you expect to make money in a negotiating business like the auto business with true transparency? You call it transparency to share transaction data, where ever you happen to get it and however the consumer interprets it. Real transparency is when only the margin is negotiated because the consumer knows our costs as well as we do, but of course they lack the knowledge of what has to be paid out of that margin. To repeat - you are selling the illusion and perception of transparency, but in the doing you are feathering your own nest by portraying yourself as the "good guy" to the consumer who readily accepts the dealer as the "bad guy." The amazing thing is that any dealer has cooperated with you.
And what of the sales people you intend to replace? Or do you deny that that is one of your aims? It seems you are on record about that.
Painter: Our goal at TrueCar is to foster healthier relationships between manufacturers, dealers and consumers through data transparency.
Ruggles: Forget about healthier relationships. Profitable business relationships that are also "healthy" are the kinds of relationships to have. The euphemism "data transparency" means disseminating propriety information to consumers, information that is none of their business. They can shop at the touch and click of a mouse. What more are they entitled to?
Painter: To deliver on this promise, we require a high standard from our 5,800 dealer partners – an upfront competitive price and a commitment to a great customer experience.
Ruggles: Where does the great customer experience come from in a race to the bottom on price? Where does the money come from to accomplish that?
Painter: A discoverable upfront price is the cost of getting noticed. Contrary to popular concerns this does not create a “race to the bottom.” The lowest price only secures the sale 19.2% of the time within the TrueCar network. The sale is still won by location, selection and good old-fashioned customer service.
Ruggles: No race to the bottom? Easy for you to say! If only 19.2% buy based on the lowest price, why would you even try to provide consumers with the lowest price? The cynic in me tells me that your motive is not public service, but your own profit. Let's tell it like it is. That being the case, how on earth would you expect dealers to be your allies in the endeavor? Well, that's easy. A host of dealers with their heads up their asses have already signed on providing initial validity to your premise. In case you haven't noticed, there is a burgeoning group looking to enlighten our fellow dealers.
Painter: At TrueCar, we believe that upfront price is at the core of a good buying experience for dealer and consumer. Informed consumers buy more confidently and are more satisfied. At TrueCar, we publish the most accurate reflection of the retail market that has ever been available. The goal is to establish an objective, credible and transparent baseline for fairness – both for the customer and the dealer. That being said, TrueCar does not set this market. Our dealer partners set their own prices 100% of the time.
Ruggles: Its great that you believe that "upfront price" is at the core of a good buying experience. In our mind, a good buying experience is where the dealer makes a substantial but reasonable profit, the consumer is happy, and a long term profitable relationship is formed. The price is negotiated. Trades are taken. Consumers can shop if they feel they aren't getting what they want.
Whose definition of fairness are we using? Yours? The consumers? As previously mentioned, ask a consumer what they think a fair margin is on a new car and the answers will be all over the map. Most aren't business people. It doesn't even occur to most of them that there are substantial costs that have to be paid from gross profit.
Bottom Line: You are trying to create a system based on wildly variable consumer perceptions, while destroying the system that has worked for years, and to make a few million in the doing.
AND after you have taken down sales people and the dealer network, do you then turn you program on manufacturers? Where does it end? Dealers don't need any more downward pressure on gross profit. And those who help you provide additional pressure on their own gross profits just haven't woke up to that fact yet.
Painter: Dealers earn their business every day and we believe that their marketing programs should too. TrueCar is the only fully accountable source of new business where our dealer partners only pay when they sell a car. Gone are the days when dealers have to assume all of the marketing risk and pay for advertising and for leads as a primary way to secure new customers.
Ruggles: I suspect that more and more dealers will be opting to take their "risk" back in return for not being complicit in their own demise.
Painter: TrueCar requires DMS integration for tracking of this accountable model, the core of what makes us unique. We use DMS feeds from our dealer partners for tracking and optimization of introductions made to the dealership. We don’t use our dealer partners’ information to populate the TrueCar pricing curve. That information comes from entirely separate sources of anonymized data that represent nearly 90% of all vehicle transactions in the U.S.
At TrueCar, data integrity, security and privacy are job #1. Our policies, systems and technology have passed the scrutiny of partners like USAA, Consumer Reports, American Express, AAA and many others. TrueCar has never, and will never, sell or repurpose DMS data for any reason.
Ruggles: IF security and privacy are job #1, you have failed miserably. The credibility gap between TrueCar and dealers is growing. Even if it is true that your access to a dealer's DMS doesn't provide actual transaction data, the fact remains that your company is making money by putting additional pricing pressure on dealers under the guise of providing a "public service."
Painter: In spite of all this, we recognize that change is threatening for some. Ours will always be a high-touch industry. The service of our dealer partners and highly-trained sales professionals becomes increasingly important the more consumers know. At TrueCar, our commitment is to relieve those professionals from needing to resort to high-pressure sales tactics or misdirection. These tactics have been an albatross for our industry and they are at the heart of why consumers have become generally mistrustful of the car shopping experience in the first place.
Ruggles: Change? This isn't change. TrueCar simply puts the dissemination of proprietary dealer information on steroids. Do us a favor and let dealers return to their high-pressure and misdirection tactics of days gone by when we delivered 17,000,000 new vehicles a year. The only way most consumers will be satisfied is to be guaranteed to win the negotiation. And they can't even define what it would mean for them to win. You say consumers have become "generally distrustful of the car shopping experience?" Please tell me, is this some kind of new phenomenon that recently arose so TrueCar could come to the rescue?
Painter: Is TrueCar good for all dealers? There will always be those that resist change. To our dealer partners, we applaud your understanding that truth, transparency, and customer service is at the center of success in our changing market. And, to those that still have questions, we invite an open dialogue. One of the great virtues of transparency is that we have nothing to hide.
Ruggles: The change dealers want to resist is further downward pressure on their gross profits, at a time when their manufacturers are pushing them to spend more and more money on their facilities, thereby further increasing their costs. As a 40 year industry veteran retired from the day-to-day of retail, I can speak my mind. I hope others will do the same.
David Ruggles

The Industry's Recovery: The Devil is in the Details

...I'll cheer when the glass is half full...
The media claims the auto industry as a bright spot in our recovery. If this is good news ... well, read on.
First, sales remain well below peak; we will close out the year as a whole with less than 13 million sales, against a peak SAAR [industry jargon: seasonally adjusted annual rate] of 17 million. So we're still down 24%. Nevertheless, the glass is at least half full, because that's 30% better than the sub-10 million unit level of late 2008-early 2009.
That story is grimmer when we examine the value of motor vehicle and parts shipments; they are still  down a full 33%. But again, at $30 billion shipments are still up 30% from their nadir.
Quarterly data from the FRED database of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Click graphs to enlarge.
Well, then there's employment. That's up, by about 80,000 in retail and 90,000 in manufacturing. Given the abysmal state of our job market that's something for which we should be thankful. But again, it's from a really, really low base. Well into 2007 manufacturing employed over 1.0 million; compared to January 2007, at nadir the industry had lost 400,000 jobs. Retail saw less of a drop in percentage terms, about 15%, but compared to January 2007, in absolute terms employment at the nadir at dealerships shrank by about 246,000 and parts retailers by 58,000. If we combine the two, January 2007 employment was 2.94 million; the nadir was 2.25 million. Today (Nov 2011) we're at 2.40 million.
Generated by Smitka from BLS data. Click graphs to enlarge.
In the auto sector, retail and manufacturing, we've added 150,000 jobs. Not bad. But we were down 680,000. So at +22% we've not even regained a quarter of what we lost. It's not that things could be worse; things have been much worse.
I'll cheer when the glass is half full.
Mike Smitka
Professor of Economics, Washington and Lee University
Judge, Automotive News PACE "Supplier of the Year" competition

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Politics of the GM-Chrysler Bankruptcies

By David Ruggles
During the recent Republican debate held in Mitt Romney’s home state of Michigan, the presidential hopeful was asked about the “rescue” of General Motors and Chrysler. The premise of the moderator’s question was that since the automakers are now doing well, did Romney “regret his opposition to the rescue?” Romney answered, “The government finally followed my advice,” referencing his November 2008 op-ed in The New York Times entitled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” [Click to read the full article.]
Despite the inflammatory headline, Romney’s article was temperate and well-reasoned. Some readers might have assumed that the “bankruptcy” Romney recommended was a Chapter 7 liquidation, but that was not the case. The piece was written in the context of events of the day, in particular the Detroit Three CEOs appearing before Congress to request a “bailout.” The initial request was for $25 billion in loans or loan guarantees. That appeal later grew to $35 billion, while the total investment necessary to do the job, which has largely been repaid or secured with stock, ballooned to $81 billion.
In his op-ed, Romney stated that it would be better if the two companies in question, GM and Chrysler, were allowed to go through a “managed, pre-structured bankruptcy to allow them to restructure themselves.” Without such a restructuring, but with a “bailout,” Romney argued, the companies would continue on their current unsustainable path and would ultimately have to liquidate. “But don’t ask Washington to give shareholders and bondholders a free pass — they bet on management and they lost,” Romney said in his piece.
Reached by telephone for this column, Steve Rattner, former chief of the Automotive Task Force, called Romney’s 2008 piece “prescient.” He praises Romney’s op-ed as “95% correct.” According to Rattner, the “Romney plan” was followed almost to the letter. The exception: there was “no debtor-in-possession financing available through private lenders, requiring the U.S. Treasury to fill that role,” he said. (Remember the financial system meltdown of 2008-9 – see the note at the bottom.)
After the “government finally took my advice” comment, though, Romney should have left it there. The Democrats seem to be trying to mischaracterize Romney’s stated position in the New York Times article by applying “liquidation” bankruptcy to Romney’s headline, instead of the reorganization he clearly recommended in the body of the column.
Even more confusing is that Romney himself currently seems to be mischaracterizing his own original position. Bloomberg writes: "In Michigan after Wednesday's Republican candidate debate, Mitt Romney defended his opposition to the government bailout that saved jobs in the tens of thousands at GM and Chrysler. (Again, see the note.) According to Romney, instead of asking the government to intervene, the companies should have entered into private sector bankruptcies immediately.”
Never one to waste an opportunity, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, said in an interview with Bloomberg that “Romney's view was ‘a knife in the back’ to his home state."
Rattner, too, is puzzled. “I can’t understand how Romney can go from being so out in front of the auto company reorganizations to disavowing his almost perfect original position. In fact, GM CEO Rick Wagoner stubbornly refused to consider Chapter 11 bankruptcy for GM and had to be removed for the reorganization to go forward.”
By the time Pres. Barack Obama was inaugurated, the Bush administration had already advanced $17.4 billion in “bridge loans” from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to the two ailing automakers. Congress had turned down a “bailout” package despite Vice Pres. Dick Cheney admonishing his fellow Republicans, “Do you want to be known as the party of Hoover forever?”
Perhaps Romney is criticizing the Bush administration for the “bridge loans,” but last anyone checked, George W. Bush is not running for President again.
What is clear is that the rescue of the auto industry will be a hot topic in the upcoming 2012 elections. The President and the Democrats will be taking credit for what so far seems to be a good move, despite flaws in the “rescue’s” execution. The Republicans seem determined to claim that the “rescue” was a “bailout” and shouldn’t have been done.
In Republican frontrunner Romney’s case, he seems to be having a difficult time making up his mind what he thinks. His camp did not respond to a request for clarification of his position in advance of this column.
David Ruggles has spent his career in every phase of the retail side of the auto business, new and used, sales and management, including consulting and training in both the U.S. & Japan. Ruggles has been a dealer for Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Dodge, GMC, Ford, Mazda, and Subaru, and has consulted for one of the world’s largest privately owned Toyota dealer groups located in Japan. He blogs at and writes regular columns for several publications.
Note: on this blog Ruggles and Smitka repeatedly examined this issue during 2008-9, arguing that, due to the interlinked nature of the supply chain, made visible in the aftershocks to the industry of the "3/11" Tohoku earthquake, the liquidation of GM would have forced suppliers and hence Toyota, Honda and the rest of manufacturing to close. Without inventory, dealers would have followed, while even repairs on existing vehicles would have become difficult because spare parts production would also have shut down. Remember, there was no private financing to handle normal Chapter 11 bankruptcy – the only alternative would have been immediate liquidation.

The Resilient U.S. Economy

If the stock market is the pulse of the American economy, the outlook might be better than expected.
In a conversation I had with noted Wall Street analyst and international trader James Vena, he asked a very interesting question: “Where was the Dow a year ago?” Answer: About 12,000. “And where is the Dow today?” About 12,000.
Vena pointed out that the economy has withstood some serious challenges this year, including:
  • A debt crisis that would threaten the European economy and the Euro currency itself.
  • A significant cheapening of the U. S. dollar.
  • A disruption in oil supply from Libya caused by a series of uprisings in the Middle East and a corresponding spike in fuel prices.
  • An earthquake and tsunami in Japan that would disrupt world trade including components for global auto production.
  • Flooding in Southeast Asia that further disrupts the global supply chain.
  • An attempt by a U.S. political party to hold a lifting of the country’s debt ceiling resulting in a lowering of the credit rating.
  • The bankruptcy of a major legacy U.S. airline.
  • Continuing U.S. housing foreclosures and a further decline in home values.
The U.S. economy is far from out of the woods. But it has withstood a serious assault in the past year and not slipped into a double-dip recession. Will the upcoming election year bring about new challenges, or will the economy get a break?
Mike Smitka as devil's advocate: but it's housing prices that are weighing down household balance sheets, not the stock market. Until you get into fairly high incomes shareholdings are primarily indirect, through retirement plans -- are Americans really going to cut back on their contributions further in order to buy a new car???? And sitting at 9%-plus unemployment for 2 years is "resilient"?
The Ford-GM Stock Equation
As with the economy, the stock market will continue to evolve. So far this year, though, auto stocks, specifically, have hit some hard times.
Surprising to many is the fact that the stock of General Motors has dropped to about $21 per share from its $35-per-share post-IPO high a year ago. Even more surprising is that Ford’s stock has dropped to about $11 per share from $18 in the same time frame. This decline, despite impressive sales gains and profits, and improved fixed costs, now that both companies' VEBAs have capped legacy costs while their UAW contracts have removed the threat of strikes and wage hikes.
Of course, in the past year there have been headwinds: high oil prices, the Japanese tsunami, and the debt crisis debacle, to name a few. Both companies have taken hits on quality, with GM experiencing bad PR due to some Chevy Volts that burst into flames during crash testing and Ford being slammed in a J.D. Power quality survey.
Despite these obstacles, the two companies have stood firm. GM announced the reopening of the old Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., to build the Chevy Equinox. Both companies continue to increase volume, marketshare, and profits. They have both been reducing incentives while maintaining sales momentum.
Once GM’s stock price gets to a certain level, expect the Treasury Department to sell quantities of the taxpayer’s GM stock. The outcome: a somewhat depressed price.
So what is your prognostication for the upcoming year? Buy? Sell? Hold?

GM recently began paying a dividend on preferred stock while Ford just announced a 5 cent per quarter dividend, its first since 2006.

David Ruggles has spent his career in every phase of the retail side of the auto business, new and used, sales and management, including consulting and training in both the U.S. & Japan. Ruggles has been a dealer for Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Dodge, GMC, Ford, Mazda, and Subaru, and has consulted for one of the world’s largest privately owned Toyota dealer groups located in Japan. He blogs here at blogspot and writes regular columns for several publications.

Friday, 9 December 2011

From whence will they come? -- profits, that is.

In North America the pricing umbrella created by the need of the Detroit Three to fund retiree health care is unwinding, while the Europeans are fleeing the Euro to add capacity here; the Japanese began diversifying out of their yen cost base 15 years ago. In the short run, that may improve profits for the Detroit Three and the Germans at the expense of the Japanese, but will ultimatlely enhance rivalry and lower profits for the industry as a whole. Europe remains in the doldrums, and the excess capacity in China will become more apparent as sales slow to a merely torrid pace. Ditto India. Brazil? South Africa? Sure, there will be markets that grow, but will they grow faster than new capacity is added? I can't think of an exception.
That pressure is obscured by shifts among market segments, particularly in the move away from small cars in the US and China that boosted profits for some firms. It is also obscured by exit, the role of which is inadequately recognized. In Europe VW snapped up SEAT, Skoda and others while Ford and GM consolidated formerly autonomous UK and German operations. In Japan Toyota absorbed Hino, Isuzu, and Daihatsu and now has a large though not yet controlling stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru's parent. Meanwhile foreign partners have unloaded their stakes in Mazda and Mitsubishi, which face a shrinking domestic market and a yen whose value makes exports unprofitable. No one is likely to value them solely for their engineering capabilities; their demise is only a matter of time. The US looks different partly because of large capacity adjustments by the Detroit Three, but we've also seen the demise of AMC, Suzuki, Isuzu, and Mazda while Mitsubishi's plant continues to run at unsustainably low capacity. If we include the elimination of brands such as Saturn and the cessation of exports by various firms, exit is significant. Inside Korea, Hyundai gobbled up Kia while GM purchased Daewoo and Renault picked up Ssangyong. The survival of brand names makes it hard to know what operations remain. Ditto Australia, where the Ford and GM affiliates were at one time stand-alone companies.
You might say "but China." Few outsiders are aware that there were 120 firms in that market, which was dominated by a host of minuscule operations owned by the governments of provinces and large cities. They had captive markets -- the models made in Shanghai couldn't be found on the streets of Beijing, and vice-versa. Of course some of these firms and subsequent private entrants (Geely, Chery and BYD) continue in business. But the market is dominated by those Chinese firms that poured their efforts into joint ventures; they've created jobs and been able to keep a slice (as a first approximation, half) of the profits, and some of them have quietly gobbled up failing regional firms. That's important because, while the central government in Beijing has been able to eliminate the domestic trade barriers in industry after industry that impeded the creation of a national economy, the legacy of local fiefdoms remains visible in the vehicle market. VW and GM, strongest in Shanghai, have done very well. Who will "own" Sichuan Province, with a population of over 100 million? It won't be a local firm, because their exit continues.
So as I look across the world (OK, on a good day I can only see 40 miles from my mountain ridge home), well, what strikes me is the likelihood that in the aggregate profits will continue to erode. Consumer preference for choice offsets that, allowing an amazing diversity of product to survive in the marketplace. From time to time individual firms will themselves with the right vehicle in the right place, and do quite well. But that will be offset by poor profits elsewhere. In the background, there's the pressure to invest in new technologies. No one can risk not pouring resources into R&D, as regulatory pressure for safer products, lower emissions and higher fuel efficiency keeps raising the technology bar. But with expensive new and less expensive old technologies continuing side-by-side in the marketplace (and typically the dealership), it won't be possible to raise prices sufficiently to generate generate commensurate profits.
With lower industry profits, the losses for those firms that fail to hit a sweet spot will be worse. It will thus be much harder for firms that find themselves on left tail of the distribution of profits to survive. Chances are Saab won't be the last manufacturer to fold in the 21st century's second decade.
Followup: For a story focusing on this issue from that standpoint of one product, see"Toyota Threatened..." by Alan Ohnsman at Bloomberg.
Mike Smitka