Detroit Car Makers Get Crafty

Norma Rodriguez carries away flowers that were left by neighbors at the home of her cousin, Maria Gurrolla, in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009. Gurrolla's newborn son, Yair Anthony Carillo, was found in Alabama Friday after being abducted from the home Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

At Showcase Chevrolet in Dallas, Vic Domhoff was shopping for a new SUV.
He'd heard about zero percent financing, of course. But last week, as CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason reports, GM sweetened its incentives, letting customers like Domhoff take most GM models home for 24 hours or 100 miles.

"You basically have a rent a car for a day," says a salesman.

"I've never really heard about a nationwide campaign to do this," says Domhoff.

But with auto sales slumping in this year, down nearly four and a half percent, Detroit is doing everything it can to get your attention.

At the New York auto show, Ford announced it will be phasing out the Taurus. Back in 1996, it was the country's number one selling car. But the Japanese sped past the Taurus, whose sales have fallen behind Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

"Honda Accord just knocked 'em right in the ditch," says Jean Jennings, editor of Automobile magazine.

Why did the once mighty Taurus run out of gas?

"Some say the design became dull, and in this highly competitive auto business, you can't afford to be boring," says Jennings.

Its replacement, the new Ford Futura, goes on sale in 2005.

Ford is already promoting the Futura's cutting-edge design, and design may be more important than ever, says Jennings.

"If cars last forever, you don't need a new car," says Jennings. "What you have to do is make people want a car they don't need."

And Ford, GM and Chrysler can only expect more foreign competition.

"Detroit's going to have to get smarter," says Keith Crain, publisher of Automotive News. "They're going to certainly have to get leaner.

"And they're going to have to have cars that you and I want to buy."

So Detroit is trying to race your motor to keep from spinning its wheels.
  • Jaime Holguin

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