Filed under: Car Buying , Chevrolet , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Toyota Ask any sales and marketing executive from Chrysler , Ford or General Motors what their company’s greatest challenge is and they will unequivocally reply, “California.” The Golden State accounts for 12.5 percent of all new car sales in the United States, but even more importantly, it is seen as a bellwether for the nation. As the home of the entertainment and consumer electronics industries, California has an outsized reach into our nation’s popular culture – but Californians have historically been among the least receptive to domestic products. There’s some evidence that trend may be changing, as domestic market share has been improving in the recent years, according to Forbes . Ford has seen its Blue Oval brand improve from seven percent in 2008 to over nine percent last year. Chevrolet topped six percent last year after three years of growth. Even Chrysler, which had a market share of less than four percent in 2010, has seen growth – to five percent in 2011 and almost six percent so far this year. Still, those numbers are a pittance compared to the import brands. According to The Detroit News , domestic automakers have a combined 30.8 percent share in California, well below their 44.3 percent national average. The domestics’ recent growth in California – the Japanese and Korean manufacturers’ “home turf” – has certainly been helped by supply shortages at Honda and Toyota , companies beset by natural disasters last year. If domestic automakers are going to continue to take share from foreign competition, they’re going to have to have more success stories like the recent surge in Chevrolet Volt sales, a phenomenon spurred by the availability of High Occupancy Vehicle lane stickers for GM’s plug-in hybrid.
Filed under: Car Buying , Etc. , Ford , Honda , Hyundai , Lexus , Toyota ALG reports both Ford and Hyundai have seen substantial jumps in their respective perceived quality, with the Blue Oval enjoying a 37 percent jump since 2008. Hyundai, meanwhile, has seen its figures increase by 25 percent over the same five years. For industry watchers, the news should offer no real shock. Both manufacturers have been on a new-product warpath, offering models laden with fresh design, efficient drivetrain options and plenty of technology while steadily increasing quality. The increase has been enough to push Ford to fourth on the list of brands with the highest perceived quality with a score of 70.5. That score puts Ford just behind Subaru with a score of 71.1. Ford and Hyundai may have had strong showings, but Honda has snagged top honors among mainstream brands with an 81.3 perceived quality score, followed by Toyota with 80.1. Lexus walked away with the highest rank among luxury brands, followed by Mercedes-Benz and BMW . Cadillac , Lincoln and Jaguar , meanwhile, all fell below the luxury average of 71.2 points.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Crossover , Cadillac , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Toyota , Earnings/Financials , Luxury Detroit must be good SEO for CNN, as it continues to point to the Motor City and tell carmakers everything they’re doing wrong. I imagine most manufacturing companies enjoy getting advice from the media. We’re so good at it. For the most part, the ideas just rehash things you probably already knew. Carmakers certainly do. Who doesn’t want higher residual values? Who doesn’t want to build and sell more luxury vehicles? Family sedans? But what I find more upsetting are some idiotic statements, such as comparing the percentage of crossovers built by one company that doesn’t have a full-size truck to one that does. It makes for some neat numbers, but unfairly so.
Filed under: Etc. , Plants/Manufacturing , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Toyota , Canada TheDetroitBureau.com reports 5,000 Canadian Teamster union members moved to strike against the Canadian Pacific Railroad after last-minute negotiations failed to reach a fruitful agreement. As a result Chrysler , General Motors , Ford , Honda and Toyota have all seen their vehicle shipments bottlenecked. The railroad company has closed a full 15,000 miles of track across both Canada and the U.S., and the Canadian government has already threatened take action to put an end to the standoff. Those tracks typically handle a large portion of vehicle commerce, including moving both complete cars and components to and from manufacturing facilities. According to TDB, Canadian Pacific Railroad serves auto manufacturing facilities across Ontario and the U.S. Midwest, helping to link those plants with sister locations in Mexico . Chrysler says the company is currently investigating alternative shipping methods in the event the strike continues much longer. Honda, meanwhile, has said CR-V shipments have already been impacted by the issue. Canadian railroad strike could pinch U.S.
Filed under: Car Buying , Ford , GM , Hyundai , Kia , Toyota , Earnings/Financials The annual “Car Wars” report by Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy predicts that, despite their seizing of U.S. market share over the last few tumultuous years, Korean brands Hyundai and Kia will give it all back and then some to companies like Ford , General Motors and Toyota by 2016. Murphy bases his predictions not on tea leaves or crystal balls, but rather the rate at which automakers launch new products. Ford will replace 26 percent of its product line over the next four years, a number that represents 46 percent of its volume, while General Motors will replace 25 percent and Toyota 24 percent. On account of these new product launches, Murphy says Ford can expect to add 0.8 percentage points of market share, General Motors will recover 0.5 points and Toyota will add another 0.3 points. Other automakers that won’t be so aggressive in turning over their lineups with new models include Chrysler , Honda , Nissan and the European brands, which Murphy surmises will all remain flat in terms of market share. Hyundai and Kia, meanwhile, will be introducing fewer new models than the rest and therefore, Murphy predicts, will see a 0.5 decline in U.S. market share. Of course, these are all just predictions and can be blown to bits with the next unforeseen economic crisis or natural disaster, just like the last three years were. And there are other factors that might affect market share for each automaker during the next three years, including the availability of raw materials, exchange rates, union contracts, recalls and a million another minor things that might grow to become big things, not the least of which is consumers deciding they actually like all those new products being launched.
Filed under: Hybrid , Minivan/Van , Wagon , Europe , Hatchback , Ford , Toyota , Electric Ford dealers have started taking orders for the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid , the company announced today. The gas-electric hybrid will arrive later this year with a starting price of $25,995, undercutting its most direct competitor, the Toyota Prius V hybrid, which has a base price of $26,550. “C-Max Hybrid offers better fuel economy, performance, technology and functionality than Prius V – and C-Max Hybrid customers will pay less at the dealership and at the pump,” said Ken Czubay, vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service, in a press release. More importantly, Ford will provide some stiffer competition for Toyota , which has ruled the hybrid market, selling 77 percent of all hybrids in the U.S. this April. The C-Max will only be offered in the U.S. as a hybrid, similar to Toyota’s Prius strategy. There will also be an all-electric version, known as the C-Max Energi , that arrives this fall. Ford sells the C-Max, which is built on Ford’s compact car platform, in Europe as a gas powered model.
Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing , BMW , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Mercedes-Benz , Nissan , Toyota , Volkswagen Before financial Stargate opened in September of 2008 and transported us to an entirely new economic dimension, it was oh so common to read about domestic automakers hammering Tier One suppliers to lower their prices. Of course, suppliers are still asked to find efficiencies, but pre-2008, it seemed a point of honor to hold a supplier’s feet to the fire. No more: in the latest Working Relations Index survey of suppliers by Detroit firm Planning Perspectives Inc., General Motors and Chrysler rocketed up the charts to bring the bunch much closer together. Admittedly, the two companies are still in last place, with GM just ahead of Chrysler and Toyota and Honda still up top. But perspective and improvement is the issue here: in 2005, Toyota scored 415 and GM scored 114. In this year’s survey, Toyota scored 296 and Chrysler scored 248. It is the first time in the 12 years of the survey that the six automakers covered have been separated by less than 50 points. Chrysler’s jump was led by the efforts of the the late Dan Knott , whle GM’s improvement has been led by Bob Socia. And yes, this is also a matter of the perennial leaders, Toyota and Honda, suffering a dip: in 2010 Toyota scored 327 and Honda 309, two years later, Toyota has dropped 31 points. Every automaker, however, from top to bottom acknowledged that they still have work to do with supplier relations.
Filed under: BMW , Ford , GM , Honda , Hyundai , Mercedes-Benz , Mitsubishi , Nissan , Toyota , Volkswagen Forbes has measured the largest 100 companies in the world, and 10 automakers have made the list. This list is unique in that it measures the size of a company using a combination of sales, assets, profits and market value. Volkswagen was rated as the top automaker in the top 100 (number 17 overall), with sales of $221 billion and $21.5 billion in profit. Toyota finished a close second, ranked number 25 overall with sales of $228.5 billion. Daimler finished at 37 due in part to $188.7 billion in assets and a $66.3 billion market cap. Ford came in at 44 with a market value of $47.5 billion. Honda , which also sells motorcycles and generators, among other things, rounds out the top five with $137.7 billion in assets. Finishing outside of the top five were BMW (61), General Motors (63), Nissan (85), Mitsubishi (95) and Hyundai (96). Mitsubishi made the top 100 in part because it sells hoards of electronics around the world. No automakers were able to crack the top 10, even with massive sales volume and solid profits.
Filed under: Etc. , Government/Legal , Ford , Honda , Toyota , Earnings/Financials While the headline might seem shocking, given the circumstances of the 2009 global economic meltdown, it only makes sense. Ford’s dealings with two of its biggest competitors were centered around mutual self-preservation in the form of trying to keep a beleaguered supplier base afloat, according to The Detroit News . According to the report, Ford , Toyota and Honda cooperated to buy from common suppliers in a bid to keep those parts-makers from going under, which would have threatened the automakers’ viability. That revelation comes courtesy of a new book, American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman. The auto industry is far more complex than many people realize, especially in this modern era, with ever-more demanding regulations and brutal competition from all corners of the globe. Tier One suppliers, as the biggest parts companies are known, have assumed much of the engineering and product testing and development work for new vehicles, even including big chunks of assembly. When times get tough, as they most certainly did in late 2008, suppliers are often the canary in the coal mine . At least 27 automotive suppliers filed for Chapter 11 in 2009, meaning that Ford had good reason for taking such precautions, referred to as “Project Quark” internally, according to the report.
Filed under: Etc. , Government/Legal , Safety , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Kia , Nissan , Subaru , Toyota The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating a number of vehicles for potentially faulty side airbags , according to The Detroit News . The airbags may have been manufactured with an ineffective mix of inflation gasses, which could leave the bags flat in the event of a collision. The defective hardware has found its way into models from Toyota , Honda , Subaru and Nissan , and has resulted in the recall of around 2,700 units so far. If NHTSA finds the defective airbags in other vehicles, that number could swell substantially. The defective airbag inflators were manufactured by a Autoliv, a Swedish supplier. According to the report, Autoliv shipped a total of 10,500 faulty inflators to manufacturers as well as two other airbag makers. Chrysler , Ford , General Motors , Kia and Suzuki all purchased the defective parts, though it’s unclear exactly which models were equipped with the Autoliv pieces. Ford, GM and Chrysler have all said their airbag inflators work differently than those used by other automakers. The companies haven’t seen any failures in extensive testing.