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Five Christmas Wishes for The Auto Industry

Monday, 24 Dec 2007 | 1:21 PM ET
Smart Car
CNBC.com photo composite
Smart Car

With Detroit and much of the auto industry shut down this week and gearing up for the Detroit Auto Show next month, I thought it would be a good time to take a few minutes and share my Christmas wishes for the auto world. I hope Santa brings you everything you want.

5. Financial wiggle room and new products for Chrysler.

Despite Chief Executive Bob Nardelli releasing a statement Friday to downplay the perception that Chrysler is in a financial strait jacket, the fact remains: these guys are in a tough spot. Will Chrysler collapse? No. But Chrysler will pay the price for having to cut production in 2008 and the product pipeline will take time to open up.

4. A strong launch and sustained sucess for Smart Car.

Early next year, the Smart Car will go on sale. There are already thousands of people who have put in orders, and the launch of these pint-size cars will be very strong. But beyond the initial surge, my hope is that the Smart Car flourishes -- and is not merely an oddity seen primarily in big cities on both coasts.

3. A new owner who shines up Jaguar.

Ford Motor's auction of this venerable automaker is wrapping up, and Indian automaker Tata Motors has the inside track. I hope the sale wraps up with Tata, or whoever is the winning bidder, putting the money and effort into Jaguar that will help this beleaguered brand start to to restore its luster.

2. Continued consistency from BMW.

At a time when few automakers can get right, and more importantly, keep it going, it's nice to see one consistently get it right. Let's hope the German automaker keeps on the roll it's shown in recent years, when it brings the 1 series to the U.S.

1. The auto industry withstands a slow '08.

Let's face it, next year is shaping up to be an ugly one for auto sales. It won't be a complete disaster, but '08 sales will be slow, especially for large SUVs and trucks. I hope the automakers, especially the Big Three, not only manage the slowdown, but more importantly, position themselves with the products and financial wiggle room needed to flourish in '09 and beyond.

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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