Declining sales force American automakers to change how they do business - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Declining sales force American automakers to change how they do business

Unemployment is up, auto sales are down, home sales are down, and Wall Street took some profits off the board Thursday.

The Dow was down 283.10 points to close at 11,349 on Thursday.

The Nasdaq also closed down 45.77 points at 2,280.

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The changes Ford is making mirrors what General Motors is also going through.  Declining sales and growing financial losses are forcing the American automakers to change the way they do business.

Ford is making rapid changes which the company calls an accelerated transformation plan. That's because Ford lost $8.7 billion from March to July this year, which was the company's worst quarterly performance ever.

Ford claims a rapidly changing business environment is the reason for the change in business.

Ford has car lots full of SUV's and trucks it can't sell since gas prices went up.  Suddenly Ford and GM have had to make immediate changes to build smaller, fuel-efficient cars.

Besides losing nearly $9 billion in the second quarter this year, Ford has had cost reductions of $1 billion and a pre-tax loss of $1 billion.

There is a plus side to the mess at Ford.  Its European and South American operations are profitable, and the company claims it has momentum in Asia.

Even with all of the changes announced Thrusday, going forward through next year and into 2010, Ford executives say don't look for a quick recovery.

How quickly the American business turns around depends on how efficiently Ford can build smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles and, more importantly, how they are viewed by the American car buyer.

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June brought no improvement in the real estate market nationwide, which is not the case in Louisville.

The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes nationally fell more sharply than expected in June.

Sales dropped by 2.6% last month, more than double the expected decline.  It leaves sales 15% below where they were a year ago.

However, bucking the trend, Louisville home sales from May to June were up 3.4%.

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Here's what happens when you have more money than you need.  The co-founder of Google is such a person.

Sergey Brin has plunked down $5 million for a down payment to a company called Space Adventures.  It's a down payment to book his seat on a round-trip ticket to outer space.

The space tourism company will need another $30 million from Brin for his trip.

You don't need $35 million for all the space trips; Space Adventures also offers zero-gravity flights for $40,000.

The company hopes to be making the outer space trips in 2011.

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