The conventional wisdom out on the street is Cash for Clunkers has been a sugar high for the auto industry. Dealerships that were dead have had a great four week run. Auto manufacturers that went through two years of closing plants and cutting shifts are now ramping up production. And talk about the collapse of America's auto business has faded away.
But there's a new concern creeping into conversations about the post-clunker future for auto makers: can they thrive without the Federal incentive? From talking with dealers around the country, I believe sales, while they will fall back a bit, will eventually hold up at an annual pace over 10 million. Is that a level to thrive at? Yes and no. The key will be how well auto makers manage their production.