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Do You Buy the Optimism?

Car on road
Car on road

They are the moves, comments, and reflections of a struggling auto industry finally getting back on its feet.

A couple of major automakers and their executives have sent clear signs they are preparing for better times.

Today in India Ford CEO Alan Mulally said he expects U.S. sales between 10.5 and 11 million this year and rising to 14.5 million in 2011.

And yesterday GM announced it would add a third shift at 3 of its plants - a move that will mean re-hiring 3,000 workers.

Separately, you might look at these statements and say these companies were operating at such a low base a slight increase is to be expected. But this goes beyond such a quick dismissal. There is clearly an optimism building among automakers. And no, it's not the kind one-time quick hit you get with a clunkers incentive program.

The question is whether you buy it?

Talking with those outside the auto industry I still sense plenty of trepidation about what's next. Everyone agrees the worst has passed, but there's still not the confidence that would fuel auto sales of 12 or 13 million annually. People still know friends and relatives who are without a job.

That said the automakers are buying into this optimism as we head into the start of the auto show season. Last year, the shows were a bust across the board. This year, starting with Tokyo next month and Los Angeles in December, the executives will be painting a far different picture. Are you buying what they are selling?

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- Ford Motor

- Toyota Motor

- Nissan

- Honda Motor

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