NEW YORK TIMES, 12/2/2000
Automakers are Facing a Sales Slowdown
By KEITH BRADSHER
DETROIT, Dec. 1 Through most of the 1990's, automakers avoided building new assembly plants, convinced that the good times would not last. They have finally committed themselves in the last two years to a string of new factories, only to find their timing is as poor as ever: sales have begun to slow, particularly for Detroit's manufacturers.
The combined sales of Detroit-based automakers fell 3.5 percent last month, compared with November of last year. While sales are still at a level that would have been considered very strong until the last two years, they have now lagged last year's pace in six of the last seven months and much more production capacity is becoming available.
General Motors, Ford Motor and DaimlerChrysler have already responded by eliminating overtime and briefly closing a few factories; Ford and the Chrysler unit of DaimlerChrysler both announced further temporary closings today. Ford also said its per- share earnings in the fourth quarter would fall 10 cents short of analysts' consensus forecast of 85 cents.
Asian and European automakers are also starting to encounter trouble, with their sales barely rising this autumn, including last month.....