A Year On, Toyota's Woes Go Beyond Recalls
A Year On, Toyota's Woes Go Beyond Recalls
Toyota managed to hold onto the title of world's No. 1 automaker last year, despite numerous safety recalls that took a toll on its sales. Toyota sold 8.42 million vehicles worldwide in 2010, enough to barely edge out resurgent General Motors, which rang up sales of 8.39 million.
With U.S. automotive dominance waning, a new moniker has emerged: the "Detroit Three." But don't count out Ford, GM or Chrysler -- their post-recession future looks strong, thanks to some agonizing restructuring. Now, they can be profitable selling fewer cars.
Chrysler has finally decided to jump on the hybrid bandwagon, announcing Wednesday that it is working with the EPA to develop a hydraulic hybrid powertrain for its vehicles. The system, which stores energy derived from vehicle braking as pressure, could improve fuel economy by 30% to 35%.
Ford will overhaul its Kansas City, Mo., plant, saving some 3,750 jobs at the facility, which was in danger of closing.
The smallest of the Detroit Three, Chrysler has made substantial strides in turning around its business, including lowering the number of vehicles it needs to sell to make a profit. The automaker had pegged 1.65 million as its operating break-even point, but has just lowered this to about 1.5 million vehicles.
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Tuesday, Ford and Chrysler both announced plans to introduce a host of new models. Ford will add seven vehicles with "truly unique Lincoln DNA" to its luxury line, while Chrysler has its eyes on new pickups, a revived Jeep Grand Wagoneer, and possibly, a 'mini-minivan.'
Italian automaker Fiat increased its stake has in Chrysler Group to 25% after the U.S. automaker met a key goal by starting engine production at a plant in Dundee, Mich., the company said Monday during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
GM's long-anticipated plug-in electric hybrid hatchback picked up top honors at the huge auto industry show. The Volt was joined by Ford Motor's Explorer midsize sports-utility vehicle, which was awarded North American Truck of the Year.
The nation's leading trade association for car dealers says it now sees industry sales of nearly 13 million vehicles this year, topping last years by 12%. The rise is attributed to pent-up demand, loosening credit and a rising stock market.
The nation's automakers ended 2010 on an upbeat note with most reporting higher sales for December. Consumers seemed to put concerns about the U.S. economy on hold and more than offset reduced demand by fleet customers, such as corporations and rental-car companies.
Ford, the nation's second-largest automaker, reported its year-over-year sales rose 7% in December, driven by strong demand from consumers and giving the company its best retail-sales month of 2010. The Dearborn, Mich.-based carmaker sold 190,976 vehicles in December, compared to 179,017 a year earlier.
The first automaker to release December sales figures, General Motors reported surging consumer demand drove sales up 7.5% from year-ago levels.
The economy may be less robust than most Americans would like, but that didn't stop many of them from hitting car dealer showrooms in December, likely propelling auto sales in the final month of 2010 to 1.13 million units, the year's highest levels.
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said Monday that he could increase Fiat's ownership in Chrysler to more than 50% should America's smallest domestic automaker seek to return to the stock market this year, but that he doesn't plan to merge the companies' operations.
Chrysler Group is recalling more than 144,000 Dodge and Ram vehicles in three separate actions, and Ford Motor is recalling about 15,000 trucks and sport-utility vehicles that may catch fire. These actions add to what's been a near-record for auto recalls.
2010 may be the year of the car recall, with the U.S.'s six largest suppliers recalling more than 19 million vehicles over the last 12 months. Toyota, which recalled about 7 million cars this year, tops the list. General Motors, at about 4 million, came in second.
GM's stock price rose as much as 2.5% in trading Tuesday after several brokerage houses began coverage of the stock, with several issuing upbeat initial ratings and hefty price targets. GM still faces a hard road forward, but Wall Street generally sees success ahead.
The year maybe almost over, but there seems no end to the string of recalls issued by automakers this year. The latest action, announced Thursday, involves some 100,000 vehicles produced by General Motors.
Honda Recalls 11,000 Vehicles to Fix Loose Suspension Parts
Topping off a week in which Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, VW, Chrysler and Ford between them recalled hundreds of thousands of vehicles, General Motors today announced it is recalling 100,000 SUVs to repair front row seat belts that may come loose in a crash.
Nissan and Mitsubishi plan to work together to bring some new vehicles to market. The Japanese automakers will establish a joint venture to produce a minicar for the home market by 2012, while Nissan will produce a small van for Mitsubishi, which in turn will make an SUV for Nissan.
Now that General Motors is on better financial footing and the automaker's initial public offering of stock is behind it, CEO Daniel Akerson is reportedly seeking to have government restrictions on executive pay eased.
Ford plans to invest $600 million in a Kentucky plant to build the next-generation Escape SUV, creating an 1,800 additional jobs, the automaker said Thursday. The new jobs will be added incrementally after the Louisville Assembly plant is rehabbed and reopened late next year.
Mazda Motor is not seeking a new alliance with another auto manufacturer following Ford's recent decision to reduce its stake in the Japanese automaker.
It's traditionally one of the slowest months of the year for vehicle sales, but most automakers reported higher U.S. sales in November compared to a year ago, despite continued consumer caution about the slow economic recovery.
Sales at Ford Motor rose 24% in November compared to a year ago as demand surged for a wide range of the company's products, the automaker said Wednesday. For the month, Ford said it moved 147,338 vehicles off dealers' lots, up from 118,536 in November 2009.
General Motors Sales Climb xx% in November
Rising confidence among U.S. consumers is expected to translate into healthier numbers for the nation's automakers when they report November sales figures Wednesday. Domestic automakers fared better than their foreign counterparts as sales rebounded further from last year's anemic levels, according to analysts.
Following General Motors' historic return as a publicly traded company Thursday, President Obama said the U.S. government, despite the many critics, is on track to more than recoup the nearly $50 billion it invested in the Detroit automaker.