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Big vehicle market not getting bigger

Ford Expedition SUVs go through the assembly line at the Ford Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, Michigan. Ford is investing $75 million to prepare the plant to convert to small-vehicle production, planned for 2010.

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: Detroit's big auto makers will announce U.S. sales figures today. Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson reports.


Ford Ad: OK: Odds are if you're one of the people in America with a pick-up truck, it ain't a luxury, it's a way of life.

Jeremy Hobson: This is Ford's latest pitch for its monster pick-up truck, the F-150. The company said last week it'll re-hire 1,000 employees and ramp up production.

Joe Phillippi is president of Auto Trends Consulting. He says Ford's move doesn't mean auto makers are reversing course because of falling gas prices.

Joe Phillippi: They'll get plenty of years going forward out of big pick-ups and SUVs, but the market is going to be a lot smaller than it was in the past.

Phillippi says demand for giant vehicles will mostly come from those who actually need them. He says auto makers are well aware of that.

Phillippi: They're deathly afraid of zigging when the market suddenly starts zagging, but a broad array of consumers have truly changed their attitude.

He says even if gas prices go low and stay there, consumers aren't currently inclined toward big, expensive vehicles.

In New York, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.
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The American auto companies are beyond hopeless. They should, realistically, be allowed to fail. But that would put too many people out of work now, wouldn't it? So the government will probably have to dig them out, too, like the banks. They insisted on building gas-hogs when the first oil crisis balloon went up; they insisted that adding seatbelts would put them out of business; they whined that adding airbags would ruin them; after all that, the scumbags claimed it was all their idea in the first place. Then, when the nineties came, they threw that bloated obscenity, the SUV, at us, and that will prove, I think, their undoing. They have steadfastly maintained their crappy designs and lousy slapdash engineering throughout, and finally added a thick dollop of greed on top, to compensate for all the money their poor design caused them to lose to the Japanese auto companies. They are still trying to shove SUVs down our throats, as if the word hadn't reached Detroit. Salesmanship forced the SUV upon the gullible American public; is Detroit incapable of selling us small, fuel-efficient cars? No, it's just not about to, because it's too greedy. So to H___ with them.

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