Auto Industry's Great Hope? : Planet Money Overseas markets seem to be the only place the U.S. auto industry is booming these days, but will sales abroad be enough to save them?
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Auto Industry's Great Hope?

This would fit so nicely in an SUV. David Kestenbaum / NPR hide caption

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David Kestenbaum / NPR

As we mentioned in a recent podcast, the one place U.S. automakers seem to be doing well is overseas, in the developing world.

"Sales were especially strong in key South America markets, including Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, each setting all-time GM quarterly sales records," according to General Motors' most recent financial report.

Last year I spent a semester in Cambodia (photo above) navigating the rivers of motorbikes that clog the streets. Only one of my students, Sambath, had ever driven a car. I asked him, "But don't you like the motorbikes better? You can get around the traffic so much more easily! The cars just get stuck!"

He didn't care. He told me he was happy as a clam sitting in the car, listening to music, watching the silent chaos around him though the windows. It didn't matter if he wasn't moving. He wanted a car.

Morning Edition this week looked at whether folks like Sambath might be the auto industry's salvation.

You can also hear about Sambath and his classmates' attempts to put out a news program including a report about prostitution that the university wasn't too happy about.