UPDATE | As vehicle sales lag, Brown proposes incentives
YOUNGSTOWN — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, today announced legislation that would give customers an incentive to purchase American-made cars such as the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze.
The American Cars, American Jobs Act would give customers a $3,500 discount when they purchase cars made in America. Included in the program would be all passenger vehicles made in Ohio and about 100 other vehicles made in other parts of the country.
The legislation also would revoke a tax cut on overseas profits for automakers that cut American jobs and move them overseas.
In announcing the legislation, Brown noted the General Motors plant in Lordstown, which is now down to one shift.
“Earlier this summer, on the same day that GM laid off workers at its historic plant in Lordstown, we got word that GM plans to build its new Chevy Blazer in Mexico,” Brown said. “The company is bypassing American workers and sending jobs to Mexico.”
He was joined in the announcement by Rich Rankin, United Auto Workers Region 2-B Director, which covers all of Ohio and Indiana.
“We just need a level playing field to compete, and right now, in this country, I don’t believe we have that,” Rankin said. “We need support for the American worker. ... Senator Brown’s bill does just that.”
Although analysts had forecast General Motors’ July sales would be up, they said today that they estimate the automaker’s sales were down from year-ago levels.
GM, manufacturer of the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze, no longer releases monthly sales figures, so that is based on analysts’ estimates.
Industry-wide, sales were below what analysts had predicted, with some saying this could mark the beginning of a second-half slowdown that analysts had expected.
“Reported sales generally came in weaker than we had forecast for July,” said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist for Cox Automotive. “This has been a hard market to predict, as the economic indicators – consumer confidence particularly – are very good. At the same time, we have always felt that sales would begin trending downward in the second half. July might indicate the market has finally taken the turn we’ve been expecting.”
Also dropping lower than anticipated were small-vehicle sales. Analysts have long noted the trend of consumers moving away from small cars to utility vehicles, but small vehicles’ market share dropped further than expected, to about 31 percent, according to Cox Automotive.
Analysts noted that manufacturers that typically have stronger car sales – Toyota and Honda – saw huge decreases in that segment.
“If they can’t sell cars in bigger numbers, no one can,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader.