what's it going to take to jump start auto sales the next time the industry takes a dump. I remember around 2000 or 2001 Auto Sales were starting to slide and the industry rolled out 0% financing and the cows came running to the feed lot aka dealerships faster than anyone could of imagined. That marketing technique worked, but it soon lost it's luster. Just look at consumers this time around. The car makers tried to dangle 0% in front of everyone's face, but the consumer did not budge. They were holding out for more and Cash For Clunkers is just what they were waiting for. My biggest problem is that it's human nature to know that a good deal last year, last month, or even last week isn't a good deal today. We all want a better deal than what was offered last time. So does anyone want to take a guess at what it's going to take to get people to buy cars next time sales are down. I personally am still holding out on a buy one get on free. I've told my fiance thats the only way she will ever get a new car as long as she is married to me.
I think that the auto sales slowdown is because of:
1. cars are lasting a lot longer than they used to - hell, you got 300k out of a focus
2. it is no longer seen as a status symbol to have a new car sitting in the driveway every 2-3 years
3. cars cost a hell of a lot more than they used to, making people use them longer to get their moneys worth out of them
4. people are flat broke and are only spending on necessities
5. A lot of people see the wisdom in buying used
The cash for clunkers deal probably got a lot of people to trade in perfectly good cars for new ones, but I also saw quite a few piles of shit that got traded in as well.
Now, to answer your question - I think it'll be exorbitant gas prices that'll cause the next rush to the dealer (ie: when gas crosses $4/gallon again). Or if some new breakthru tehnology comes around that triples gas mileage.
Of course, these guys might get in the way (a honda insight mated to a vw tdi diesel that gets over 90mpg). If someone started a business doing this conversion you could sell every one that you could make, easily. Makes the prius and all of that high technology look kind of stupid now, knocked down by a lowly diesel.