Auto industry recovery provides boost to Wisconsin manufacturers

U.S. auto manufacturers saw a significant sales rebound through 2010, after dismal sales during 2009, and December was no exception.

General Motors Co. posted a 7.5-percent increase in the final month of the year to 224,185 cars and trucks. That number brought GM’s total vehicle sales for 2010 to 2.22 million, up from 2.08 million in the prior year.

Ford Motor Co. saw a 6.7-percent increase in December U.S. sales to 190,976 vehicles. Ford posted a 19.4-percent jump in vehicles sold in 2010, the largest full-year improvement for any full-line manufacturer in the industry.

"With our balanced line of high-quality, fuel-efficient products, we have a solid foundation to deliver more sales and improved results in 2011," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service. "Consideration for Ford is increasing beyond our traditional areas of strength – signaling that the seeds of growth already have taken hold."

Most auto industry analysts predict 13 million to 14 million new cars will be sold in the U.S. market this year. While most analysts are not predicting a quick return to the average of 17 million cars sold before the recession, the 2011 expectations are still a significant improvement from the 9.5 million cars sold in 2009.

U.S. auto manufacturers are seeing rising profits because of actions taken during the recession, when they closed plants, renegotiated labor contracts, drew down inventories and focused on efficiencies – both internal and throughout their supply chains.

As auto manufacturers in the United States – both domestic and “new domestic” Japanese and Korean car makers – see rising demand and rising profitability, so are their suppliers based in Wisconsin.

The metro Milwaukee area is home to a diverse range of automotive component manufacturers that make fuel efficiency, battery, seating, security, fluid indicator and metal stamped products –many have seen a steady rebound in business since early 2010 and are bullish on 2011 and beyond. 

Read more in the cover story of the new edition of BizTimes Milwaukee magazine.


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