Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Predictions 2010: Autos

As we head into 2010 it's time for the usual predictions, and after nailing seven of my nine picks last year (see below) I've been asked to throw out three picks for 2010. So here goes.

Gene J. Puskar

1. Ford Kicks it up.

Two thousand and ten is when Ford Motor's mojo kicks into gear for several reasons. First, it's in the sweet spot of its product cadence, especially with cars. The Taurus is gaining traction, the Fusion is rock solid, and the Fiesta is on the way in 2010.

On top of that, Ford is building on its momentum in the market with a marketing campaign that connects with buyers. And on top of that, the company is on the cusp of getting back in black. Officially, the company is not forecasting a profit until 2011, but I bet the folks in Dearborn are there for good by the second quarter.

2. GM finds its rhythm.

General Motors survived bankruptcy and is actually doing better than many people predicted. In 2010, I see GM finding its rhythm. That does not mean I see GM gaining market share with its stock soaring. That won't happen.

The guys running GM, however, are slowly starting to figure it out and in the next year, they will take small but important steps towards growing. GM will go public by the fourth quarter and by then should see its market share steady at roughly 19 percent.

3. Chrysler struggles.

Given how barren Cerberus Capital left Chrysler, it's clear how deep the hole is for this company. Yes, Sergio Marchionne has laid out an ambitious plan, and on paper it makes sense.

But the reality is, it will take time and money for Chrysler to get there, and until that happens this company has to pedal old models. Sure, there will be some minor cosmetic updating, but that will pale compared to the new cars and crossovers coming out from the competition. 2010 will be a tough year for Chrysler.

Grading 2009 Predictions

You might be saying, "Come on, you're the same guy who predicted last year that SUVs would come back in '09?" True, I did. Given the lower gas prices I thought Americans would rekindle their love for bigger vehicles. Didn't happen, and I was wrong. It's one of two predictions from last year I missed (out 9 total). So with that in mind, I give myself a B+ for last years picks.

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