This time of year there are a lot of prognosticators making predictions.
Last week I attended a briefing by the PwC consulting firm, which is among the best at analyzing what's going on in the automobile industry.
We heard a range of comments and predictions about 2012. Even though there are several economic and political scenarios that seem like they would have a dramatic impact on the world economy, particularly the automobile industry, the change in auto production and sales isn't expected to be that great.
If the yen stays below 80 to the dollar or the government of Iran blocks the Strait of Hormuz, forcing gasoline prices to skyrocket, or even if a dreaded double-dip recession hits the U.S. economy, car sales will vary -- but not as much as I might fear.
A European meltdown probably wouldn't have much of an impact on the North American economy, but it's bound to affect the economy of some countries with companies that export to the United States.
We're going to see an increasing trend to build vehicles where you sell them. That makes a lot of sense considering the events of the past year or so. It becomes a crapshoot if you must worry about the entire global supply base when all you want to do is build some cars and sell them in a particular market.
Considering all the horrible economic events of the past decade, it is amazing that we haven't seen larger swings in sales and production.
The financial crisis of the past few years pushed a couple of the Detroit 3 into bankruptcy, caused a severe impact on everyone and threw most forecasts into a cocked hat. Nothing made sense for at least 12 months, and for some a lot longer.
General Motors and Chrysler are still trying to recover from those dark days. And after that meltdown we saw a complete restructuring of the retail business, as well as the supplier side.
Meanwhile, a motor show is opening in the Motor City this week. It will be full of new products that are bound to tempt the reluctant buyer.
It's business as usual. And that means selling those cars and trucks one at a time.