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First Annual National Truck Summit Held in Minnesota: Changes Ahead for Auto Industry

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Automotive leadership gathered recently at the Twin Cities Auto Show in Minneapolis to discuss recent trends and events that are affecting the industry worldwide. The first ever Truck Summit provided a platform for industry leaders to speak to local auto dealers and media about what might lie ahead for the industry and the impact on future sales.

The Coronavirus that started in China is having a disastrous effect on auto sales in America as well as around the world. Already there is production decline for new vehicles, and the cut may be as much as two million vehicles from last year’s production.

“The manufacturing decline is already here,” said Mark Boyadjis, a spokesman for Automotive Advisory Services HIS Market. Boyadjis was a participant in the fireside panel discussion at the Truck Summit. A day before the run of the auto show’s ten-day run, auto sales were already beginning to slip. “Months ahead are expected to be worse,” Boyadjis said. “Manufacturers will face some hard decisions.”

Already companies like Chevrolet and Ram are making historical sales offers to sell their trucks. Look for such offers as no money down, first payment in four months, and no interest charges for 84 months.

Scott Lambert, President of the Greater Metropolitan Automobile Dealers Association, indicated dealers have plenty of inventory. “We hope for a quick term solution for this problem,” he said.

Lambert said Americans love their light trucks, SUVs, and Crossovers. Realizing this important market shift, Ford has decided to quit making cars, with the exception of Mustang. They will focus on the previously mentioned vehicles.

First Annual National Truck Summit: Changes Ahead for Auto Industry

Photo: Jay Sacket photo by Durhl Caussey

Jay Sacket, Executive Program Manager-Trucks, Toyota Technical Center, said, “We are studying the impact as our purchasing groups are watching and measuring closely what needs to be done.”

Jay Weiss, President of JATO spoke at the National Truck Summit, saying that the coronavirus Impact was going to be “sizable.”

China started having financial issues in 2019 with a slowdown in their economy. This financial problem may indirectly effect the auto industry should the virus expand beyond China’s borders. Several of the speakers indicated that many companies rely on auto parts manufactured in China, which could hinder production at American auto plants.

“As the coronavirus spreads it will have a major impact not only on the auto industry, but companion industries as well. The travel industry including restaurants, hotels, cruise, and tourism will suffer tremendously as well,” said Boyadjis during a private meeting.

Texas is home to many of the auto industries’ business activities. Plano, Texas, is the location of Toyota Headquarters for North America. Nissan and GMC have Regional offices. The Toyota plant in San Antonio is where many of Toyota Tacoma mid-size trucks and the Tundra are built. Arlington, Texas, is home to a GM plant that makes large SUVs like Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon, and Chevy Tahoe and Suburban.

What happens in the auto industry in the US and the world is anyone’s guess. As we say in Texas, we can only speculate as this is truly “our first rodeo.”

Durhl Caussey is an auto writer living in Texas. His column is featured weekly in The Epoch Times and Texas Hill Country.