Jerry Flint, he of the snazzy tweed jacket and sharp opinions, is one of many to weigh in on the effects of gas prices and incentive blowout sales on the domestic car industry. The good news is that inventories are low, but Flint points out that if Ford and GM hold steady at their current market share and if total new-vehicle sales sink down to the 16- or even 15-million unit level (something that seems to have been predicted to happen "next year" since 1999), things might get very ugly. That's assuming that rising fuel prices don't put a further dent in domestic market share. Then again, sales have been strong over the past six years, so who knows? With regards to the impact of fuel prices, Flint suggests that the domestics launch an all-out effort to improve their four-cylinder engines, push technology like cylinder deactivation across the board on V6 and V8 engines, and increase the use of 5- and 6-speed transmissions. These are good suggestions, but how quickly can all of this happen?



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