Just a few months ago, U.S. dealers couldn’t get customers into their showrooms. But in recent weeks, it seems, they could barely keep up with demand, thanks to the Cash-for-Clunkers program. But now, with that cash, all $3 billion worth, running out, the program is winding down. So, what happens next? Will the momentum keep building, or will the American market once again fall flat on its face?
That’s just one of the questions we posed to Jim O’Sullivan, CEO of Mazda Motor of America during a preview of the Japanese maker’s 2010 line-up. A 30-year Ford Motor Co. veteran, O’Sullivan was appointed to his current post six years ago, when Ford still held a controlling stake in Mazda. Recently, the American maker sold off much of its holdings, but O’Sullivan chose to remain on the Mazda payroll. He spoke with TheDetroitBureau.com’s Bureau Chief Paul A. Eisenstein at the Laguna Seca Raceway, in Monterey, California, that Mazda has sponsored for a number of years.
Q: It seems the Cash-for-Clunkers program has been a success – almost too much so. How has it played out for Mazda?
Jim O’Sullivan: The program, from our perspective, has been very successful. In fact, our share, based on what (the government) has posted, has been much higher than what our market share is, which tells you people are attracted to our products because of their fuel economy.