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Eight For '08 Predictions: Ford, Smart Cars, Chrysler And More

Wednesday, 19 Dec 2007 | 2:57 PM ET

As we close out this year, I know some of you are asking, "Hey Toyota Phil (a nickname a friend gave me after accusing me of giving the Japanese automaker too much praise) what do you think will happen in the auto industry next year?" Well, since you asked, and I know some of you haven't asked, here are my prognostications for 2008.

1. The big automakers will go on a global buying/alliance binge. What we've seen with Nissan/Renault buying a stake in Russia's largest automaker is just the start.

2. Classic car makes will come back with plenty of buzz.
The Ford Bullitt Mustang, and Dodge Challenger will get plenty of attention, setting the stage for the return of the Chevy Camaro in early '09

3. Smart Fortwo cars will be a smart choice on the coasts.
Yes, it will get big buzz in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, but not in the heart of the country.

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4. Toyota will challenge Chevy to be the top selling brand in the U.S.
It won't happen this year (and no, you can not count Scion in Toyota sales) but by next year, the Toyota brand could be #1.

5. Ford will return to its roots with a new ad campaign.
Look for new marketing man Jim Farley to update an old Ford tagline/slogan to kickstart the automaker's image.

6. Foreign automakers will establish/add plants in the U.S.
With the weak dollar, it's too attractive for Volkswagen and Fiat to put off building here.

7. Chrysler's woes will continue.
The new owners at Cerberus are aggressive, but it is too soon product wise to see sales turning around. And until there is fresh product in showrooms, sales will lag.

8. Nissan's resurgence will pick up steam.
With fresh models rolling in to showrooms and CEO Carlos Ghosn looking to expand, with Nissan roll in '08. But it's still a ways from landing a North American partner.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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