Is the Bailout Helping the Auto Industry? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/15/09

Is the Bailout Helping the Auto Industry?

The auto bailout was a bridge loan worth $17.4 billion.   General Motors and Chrysler are splitting $13.4 billion and will access the rest in February.   So far Ford has chosen not to take any money.  

Annette Sykora the chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association says the loans were given to stabilize the industry, and it is in the process of doing just that.

"We've been very pleased with the pace we've seen so far in January and we aren't back to any sort of a normal pace but I think we're better off than a lot of people were projecting," said Sykora.

But getting back on the road to success won't be as easy. It's no secret the uncertainty of companies like Chrysler and GM has folks looking for cars at other dealerships.

"We have had people say I feel more confident with the Ford product than I do with some of the other brands that are out there because they are apparently in a better financial situation and I feel like they'll be around to service my car 20, 30, 40-thousand miles and years down the road," said the general manager of Gene Messer Ford Jimmy Stallings.  

Still sales in a broken down economy are not ideal in Lubbock but Stallings says at the same time other parts of the country are seeing a lot worse.

"We don't have the extreme highs like places like California and Florida have, but we don't have the extreme lows either. We are pretty constant," said Stallings.  

Stallings says December was one of the better months for selling cars in 2008, perhaps finally a sign of optimism for an industry that is racing to get the repairs needed before it's too late.

"Car sales being 20% of all retail sales to get that stabilized to get that back rolling long term is good for our entire economy," said Sykora.  

Sykora says the future of the auto industry is all about fuel efficiency, but at the same time customers need a balance- what's good for the environment and what they can afford.

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