Big Three Automakers Trying To Recapture Car Industry

JANUARY 12, 2004 -- Posted at 7:30pm

JONESBORO - PARAGOULD, AR - For the last decade, America's big three automakers have focused on trucks and SUVs.

Now, it appears engineers and industry leaders are refocusing their attention on making cars 'cool' again.

"Domestics are bringing back the excitement to the car business," said Mike Ashford, General Manager at Central Pontiac-GMC.

After doing well in the large vehicle market, General Motors leaders are hoping the newly redesigned Pontiac GTO is one of the models that will accelerate them to their car sales goals.

Ashford added, "Your import lines have been concentrating on cars."

In fact, foreign auto makers have been making cars so well, Toyota recently passed Ford to become the number one car seller in America despite an overhaul on models, such as the Thunderbird which came out in 2002. They continue to try to shake international makers' hold.

"Mustang they've redesigned for 2005. It's got all new design to it," explained Shawn Sutton, the Business Manager at Pannell Ford in Paragould, "Going back to old-style on it."

Some believe the company with the most riding on its' new cars is Daimler-Chrysler. They came out with new models last year, including the "sport utility wagon" called Pacifica, but they haven't sold as well as expected. They have six more coming out this year.

Other US makers are following in the same tracks. Ford's 'utility car' offer will be the 'Freestyle'.

Both of the managers said sales records show trucks and SUVs are still the preferred passenger vehicles for each family member, but that's changing.

Shawn Sutton added, "A lot of the people you know who are looking for gas mileage want to go into the smaller SUVs."

"We're seeing it already, they're wanting one car back in it again," said Mike Ashford.

Automakers are hoping the new technology that's allowing cars to weigh less and produce higher horsepower, while maintaining fuel efficiency will win-over even more of those drivers, helping US carmakers sales numbers shine again.