The shutdown of almost all government offices will affect more than 800, 000 federal workers and auto industry officials are warning this could have a pronounced impact on the US car market recovery.
According to auto industry executives, their main concern is the possible impact on consumer confidence. For example, dreadful consumers stayed away from big-ticket buys during the grim years of the Great Recession, sending the auto and housing industries into their worst downturns in decades.
“We’re all concerned,” said Ken Czubay, head of U.S. marketing, sales and service at Ford. “We’re going to have to evaluate how long it’s going to last, and we’ll take the appropriate measures depending on the length of the activity in Washington.”
Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales operations warned that, “If the thing drags out a couple weeks, then…it starts to have a bigger factor on business.”
Automakers did have some problems the last time there was a partial government shutdown – for a week in mid-November 1995 and then from December 16 through January 6, 1996 – with sales going down 3.2% in December 1995 and another 2% for the whole year.
Federal workers with monetary issues because of Washington’s budget impasse could be relieved, at least if they own a Hyundai, as the Korean automaker is offering to postpoan all auto loan and lease payments for owners who are, momentarily, out of work.