In the auto industry, trade shows are surrounded by an atmosphere of opportunity. For the car enthusiast, an auto show is an opportunity to indulge a love of cars that is either a hobby or, sometimes, a way of life. For car buyers, it’s an opportunity to test a range of preferences and make a choice—a choice they will likely live with, work with, and travel with for many years to come.
For those of us who work for the American auto manufacturers, our product is more than just a collection of fused metal, technology, rubber and glass. A trade show represents the American automakers’ commitment to excellence. Something that was once no more than a concept has been developed into a superior, hi-tech, safe, more fuel efficient vehicle for the American consumer through the determination and innovation of America’s carmakers.
As the industry ushers in 2012, new annual sales figures show that car buyers are returning to America’s top automakers because of their high quality designs, improved engineering, increased fuel economy and their reputation for safety.
The result of American carmakers’ new, competitive blueprint is demonstrated by recent 2011 sales figures. This past year, America’s top automakers all reported double-digit percentage increases in sales. Chrysler, Ford and GM increased their total market share (from 45 percent to 47 percent) for the first time since 1988.
This renewed confidence and pride in products from America’s leading exporter of manufactured goods has industry experts bullish about the future of the U.S. auto manufacturing economy, with expectations for even more growth as we begin the New Year. This optimism and hope about what many consider to be a brilliant resurgence of the American car industry also extends far beyond the boardrooms and assembly lines of Chrysler, Ford and GM.
All the suppliers and vendors that are an integral part of the economic footprint of the American auto-manufacturing base are also invested in the ongoing sales success.
All auto manufacturers, suppliers and dealers collectively support 8 million American jobs and provide $500 billion in take-home pay while also generating $70 billion in tax revenue.
But two out of three auto workers work for Chrysler, Ford and GM and these companies maintain the bulk of their research and management operations in the United States. This means $12 billion more R&D investment annually in the U.S., which helps supports 3 million American jobs.
While the metrics of the economic impact are impressive, the real-life impact of the success of the American auto manufacturing industry is realized much closer to home. Improved sales for American carmakers means a friend or neighbor has a good-paying job and an increased income, and communities all across the country feel a sense of strength and revival.
Bottom line: where you innovate, develop and build cars matters. And that's why American-based automakers are not only gaining market share, but also helping drive our country's economic recovery.
The leaders, innovators, designers, engineers, and workers of the American auto manufacturing industry are rolling up their sleeves and doing what they do best: making the world’s safest, most innovative and most dependable cars. And American consumers have responded with the first market share increase for the three American companies in more than twenty years.
Governor Matt Blunt is the President of the American Automotive Policy Council and the former governor of Missouri.