This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

An Early Look at Car Showrooms in 2012

Stocks in this article: GM F TM

California and 16 other states seem close to being allowed to hold automakers to tougher emissions standards than the federal government has in mind.

If these states move ahead with their plans, they'll generate enough of a critical mass to largely determine what the rest of the country is driving. So it made me wonder what dealer showrooms will look like beyond 2011, when the first of the latest round of emissions standards go into effect.

For some answers, I talked with Paul Ballew, who spent several years as a sales and markets analyst for General Motors (GM) and is now senior vice president of customer insights and analytics for Nationwide Mutual Insurance.

It can be tricky to tell what the future holds, even for someone who does it for a living. At the very least, Ballew was able to tell me pretty confidently what he doesn't expect to see in showrooms -- lots of heavy, gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. "The probability of a comeback for this segment is low," he says. "You need a strong economy and $1.20 gas prices, so I can't see a scenario where that will be a magic bullet for Detroit."

Those who haul soccer teams or 2-by-4s around on the weekend needn't despair. Just plan on seeing more crossover vehicles that put truck or SUV tops on car bases that can handle smaller, more fuel-efficient engines. The Toyota (TM) Highlander and the Buick Enclave are examples.

A wider variety of alt-fuel vehicles are also likely to make their way into showrooms. "The great hope is that the cost for these vehicles will decline as you hit scale," Ballew says. In addition, "competition should bring out different products at different price points." As an example, he points to the Honda (HMC) Insight, a small hybrid that will hit showrooms this year with a starting price below $20,000.

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,778.15 +421.28 2.43%
S&P 500 2,061.23 +48.34 2.40%
NASDAQ 4,748.3960 +104.0840 2.24%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs