The party is slowly coming to an end. The guests are wearily drinking up the last drops. Some increasingly worry about the hangover ahead. This may be the best way to describe the mood in the auto industry shortly before the final expiration of the scrapping bonus.
CEOs Norbert Reithofer of BMW and Dieter Zetsche of Daimler no longer have to mourn the fact that they weren't invited to the party. Porsche's chief executive, Wendelin Wiedeking, for once, wasn't one of the party animals either.
Porsche allegedly sold exactly one car in Germany with the help of the country's scrapping bonus.
So it's time to take stock. Did the 5-billion-euro campaign ($6.97 billion) pay off? It has for some. Hyundai is the clear winner. The South Korean company did everything right and its sales in Germany more than doubled.
Mercedes-Benz is a scrapping loser. Despite the launch of its new E class, the Stuttgart company sold 15.9 percent fewer cars in Germany in the first half of the year.
BMW turned in a negative score, too, declining 8.8 percent. Audi escaped with a slight increase of 1.4 percent. But the Ingolstadt company had to cede market share, since the market grew 26.1 percent.
The incentive, which pays a car buyer 2,500 euros (about $3,490) for trading in a older car for a newer model, was great news for non-German brands, mainly from Italy and South Korea. Automakers from those countries were each able to double their sales.
So it's no surprise that Reithofer and Zetsche flew off the handle when the discussion turned to the scrapping bonus at the last executive meeting of the German auto industry association, VDA.
Reithofer went off on VDA President Bernd Wissmann, asking him whether he realized that most of the vehicles in the German market that benefited from the scrapping bonus were not built in the country. Wissmann had publicly backed the bonus.
What Reithofer neglected to say was that the reason BMW didn't sell more vehicles isn't simply related to the trend toward inexpensive small cars -- a trend that the bonus strengthened.
One can't escape the impression that the people in charge of marketing in Munich really were asleep at the switch on this issue.
Mercedes and BMW also benefited from the sale of vehicles that don't show up in the new registration statistics: nearly new company-owned cars. Mercedes, in particular, was able to reduce its inventory of late-model used cars.
But even that party is over. From now on, the CEOs again need to plan like careful businesspeople.
Otherwise the hangover, in the form of a fierce price war, could really become cutthroat.
Guido Reinking is editor of Automobilwoche.