The third-quarter performance “makes us cautiously optimistic for Q4, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty and a lot of Americans are still suffering,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service at Ford Motor Co.
The inventory shortages, high unemployment and other troubling economic data make the fourth quarter somewhat precarious. Sales depend largely on automakers keeping their inventory pipelines filled with popular vehicles and consumers being confident enough to make a large purchase, analysts say. Still, many automakers and dealers anticipate that sales will continue to recover, whether or not a proposed second round of economic stimulus payments ultimately is approved.
“They’re producing pretty good output for a couple of months, [but] they don’t seem to be making much headway in terms of restocking the shelves,” Chesbrough said. Unless demand decreases enough for automakers to restock, “this is going to be a problem, certainly through the rest of this year,” he told reporters last week. “Possibly it could last into the first quarter of next year.”