Detroit Carmakers Eyeing West Coast Market Again
According to a recent Detroit News article, the automakers believe they have the solution to recapture the market, which represent one in every 10 vehicles sold in the United States. The solution can only be small, green and relatively upscale.
"We were irrelevant in California," said Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. sales at General Motors Co. "We're becoming more relevant."
Last year, Detroit carmakers managed to sell only 30 percent of the cars that hit Californian roads, down from 45 percent in 2004. Meanwhile, the nationwide figure stands at 34.1 percent of all new cars and trucks that were produced by the Big Three last year.
GM North American President Mark Reuss said his company is suffered from "20 years of bad product" and its dealer footprint was decimated over the past decade. He added that the automaker still hasn't achieved the right product mix to attract enough California buyers, but it is making progress.
"It's real simple," said Ford sales analyst George Pipas. "To do well in California, you have to be big in small vehicles, year after year, on a sustained basis."
Meanwhile, Chrysler is pinning its hopes on help from Fiat and is counting on the US-spec Fiat 500 to be a hit in California, where the gas prices are higher than the national average.