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  #41  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2005, 4:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lost carolinian
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Bond Agent 007
No way!!!

You yourself just said that Japanese car sales started taking off in the mid-80's. Now you're saying that their market share has been declining????

If the Japanese market share has been declining, then how come GM is having to lay off 30,000 due to overcapacity and declining market share? (Ditto Ford)
Pick up an almanac and look at the hard DATA. Share on the rise from 1980, peaked in 1986, on the decline from there.
Japanese market share is currently at an all-time high:
--> Click here <--

Quote:
Originally Posted by lost carolinian
You're basing your entire argument on your demographic area. I live in yuppie Volvo-land, and it's primarily Japanese and European where I live.
This is even more the case on the West Coast (where I live) than any other part of the country.

About half of the cars sold here are foreign - mostly Japanese. It's been like this almost ever since I moved here in '88.

And in spite of that, I *still* see far more old American cars on the road here than Japanese cars. I see very few Japanese cars from the 80's on the road anymore, while American cars from the same decade are still fairly common.

Quote:
WRT your second comment, I believe that all boils down to good old supply and demand does it not?
Yes, it's supply and demand. Demand has been greater and increasing for Japanese cars, and declining for American cars. In other words, domestic makers' market share has been going down, and foreign (mostly Japanese) market share has been going up.
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  #42  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2005, 10:26 PM
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GM cuts jobs, will shut plants
It’s company’s largest reduction since 1991

By Rick Popely
Tribune staff reporter
Published November 21, 2005, 9:52 PM CST

General Motors Corp., confronting the biggest challenge in its history--survival--swallowed a bitter pill Monday and announced a massive plan to shrink itself.

The company that once dominated the global auto industry but is now hemorrhaging losses said it will reduce its North American manufacturing capacity by nearly 20 percent, or 1 million vehicles. It will close four assembly plants, one production line at another plant and four other production facilities by 2008, eliminating 30,000 jobs, most through attrition.

The decision represents the largest-scale cuts GM has undertaken since it closed 21 North American plants and eliminated 74,000 jobs over four years starting in 1991.

When the slashing is done, GM will be configured to build 4.2 million cars and trucks in North America, enough to supply as much as one in four vehicles that Americans buy. But it is almost certain that GM will never again dominate the industry as it did in the 1960s when it manufactured more than half of the vehicles on the road in the U.S.

"They absolutely had to do this," said analyst Rebecca Lindland of research firm Global Insight.

What's more, GM's decision to take significant capacity out of the industry is likely to level a devastating blow to the already struggling auto supply industry.

Several suppliers teetering on the brink may soon follow auto supply giant Delphi into bankruptcy, forcing the elimination of more manufacturing jobs while putting even greater pressure on the Midwest economy, analysts say.

Even after the cuts, GM will be in a position to be America's biggest automaker, but with a diminished margin over hard-charging Toyota. Of much greater significance is that the company hopes to post a profit on that scale of business, though its fortunes have fallen so far there is no guarantee the company will recover.

This year, GM is on track to lose at least $4 billion. Saddled with the high cost of union labor and facing intense competition by nimble Japanese and South Korean car companies, as well as an accelerating Chrysler Group, GM has seen its market share drop 4.6 points since 1997.

Adding to its woes, Delphi, its major auto parts supplier, is threatening to strike, possibly costing GM even more money if its supply line is disrupted. The situation is so bad that some analysts are counting GM's cash hoard--still a voluminous $19 billion--and calculating how long before America's most venerable manufacturer runs out of money and must file for Chapter 11 itself.

GM had signaled it was ready to take drastic action, but Monday's announcement was bigger in scope than expected. Originally the company was looking at cutting 25,000 jobs.

GM's plans were announced in Detroit by Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner, who has been under growing pressure to turn around the struggling automotive giant. The idea is to wring efficiencies by cutting production capacity until it is in line with sales.

Global Insight estimates GM's 30 North American assembly plants are running at 78 percent of capacity this year. With the closings, it projects GM will run at 95 percent by 2009, even as its U.S. market share shrinks to 23 percent from the 26.6 percent it had through September.

"This will get them more to where they need to be in production capacity," Lindland said. "The ideal situation is to run your plants 24/7."

GM held 31 percent of the U.S. market as recently as the mid-1990s.

"It's unrealistic to expect them to get back to 30 or 35 percent," Lindland said. "They're better off restructuring to 23 percent [market share]. Anything above that is a bonus."

If demand exceeds GM's reduced capacity, plants can work overtime or add third shifts, Lindland added.

Toyota No. 1 by '06?

Toyota's U.S. share has grown to 13.2 percent this year from 8.1 percent in 1997. As GM retrenches and Toyota expands, the Japanese company could overtake GM as the world's largest automaker, based on production volume, as early as next year.

GM has lost $3.8 billion so far this year, mainly in North America, and its credit rating has dropped to "junk" status, raising the question of future viability.

"These actions are necessary for GM to get its costs in line with our major global competitors," Wagoner said in a teleconference.

He did not give a timetable for GM to be profitable but said the cuts would reduce annual operating costs by $7 billion by the end of 2006--$1 billion more than a previous target.

Most of the 30,000 blue-collar job cuts will be made through attrition, but Wagoner said some would be through early-retirement buyouts. He said restructuring costs from buyouts and plant closings would be "significant" but gave no details.

Buyouts costly

J.P. Morgan analyst Himanshu Patel estimates that buyouts of union workers would average $80,000, and the tab could hit $917 million. "Other restructuring charges could equal or exceed this buyout amount," Patel said in a research note.

GM's restructuring sets up contentious contract negotiations in 2007 with the United Auto Workers, which decried the cuts as "extremely disappointing, unfair and unfortunate." The UAW represents 107,000 GM workers, nearly half of whom will be eligible for retirement in the next three years.

GM can idle plants before the contract ends in September 2007, but closings are negotiated as part of new contracts. UAW workers laid off next year will be placed in a "jobs bank" and receive most wages and benefits through the contract if there is no work for them.

The union and GM are in talks about plant closings and the fate of the affected workers, and GM is expected to press the UAW to eliminate the jobs bank. The union also fears that GM will import more cars from Daewoo, its Korean subsidy.

"Today's announcement clearly makes those negotiations much more difficult," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement. "Workers have no control over GM's capital investment, product development, design, marketing and advertising decisions. But, unfortunately, it is workers, their families and our communities that are being forced to suffer."

Janesville plant spared

Several analysts had identified GM's Janesville, Wis., plant as a likely candidate for closing because it builds full-size sport-utility vehicles, whose popularity has taken a hit recently. But the plant, which opened in 1919, survived the cut.

Those assembly plants closing are located in Doraville, Ga., Oklahoma City, Ontario, Canada, and Lansing, Mich. One Saturn production line at Spring Hill, Tenn., also will close. Among the other facilities to be shut down are stamping and powertrain plants in Lansing, Pittsburgh, Flint, Mich., and Ontario.

Though it has prodded GM to take such drastic action, Wall Street was underwhelmed by the news. Merrill Lynch analyst John Casesa said that's because the cuts won't address GM's biggest problem: a lack of products that compel consumers to buy.

"Ultimately, to successfully restructure GM there will need to be a significant increase in product investment," Casesa said. "It is impossible for GM to cost-cut its way to sustainable profitability."

GM's shares fell 47 cents Monday to $23.58 in New York Stock Exchange trading. The stock had gained $2.95 Thursday and Friday after Wagoner told GM employees the company was not considering bankruptcy.

Ford Motor Co., which faces struggles of its own, expects to announce plant closings and job cuts in JanuaryPart of that plan emerged last week when workers were told in a company-wide e-mail that 4,000 white-collar jobs would be eliminated in 2006.
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  #43  
Old Posted Nov 23, 2005, 10:27 PM
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What bankruptcy would mean to GM

Plunging market share, huge layoffs and a copycat filing by Ford. Those are just a few of the likely outcomes if GM can't avoid bankruptcy court.

By Robert Walberg

Rick Wagoner, chief executive of General Motors, has tried to comfort investors by saying GM has no plans to file for bankruptcy protection.

Cold comfort, I'd say. The company's deeds, if not the CEO's words, point to an acute need for some sort of bankruptcy plan, even if just as a contingency. Consider: GM (GM, news, msgs) lost nearly $4 billion over the last year; its credit rating dropped to junk status; car sales plunged as GM built bigger cars and trucks just as gas prices skyrocketed; its cash horde has been cut nearly in half; and its leading parts supplier, already in bankruptcy, faces a possible strike that could shutter GM plants for weeks if not months.

It would be irresponsible of management not to at least have some bankruptcy plan in the works, so that if the worst-case scenario did play out, they would be ready with a recovery plan. Below, I'll outline what a GM bankruptcy might look like, and how it would impact workers and competitors.

No leadership, no vision
First, a quick look at what management is doing now. GM's main push in coping with its current troubles is to cut back production deeply enough to create a balance between supply and demand. To achieve this objective, management announced that it will be closing a total of 12 plants and support facilities and slashing 30,000 employees by the end of 2008.

Basically, this course is a tacit admission by management that it has no interest in developing a plan to increase customer demand for its cars. That would require real vision, real leadership and real innovation. These are not traits Wagoner has displayed to date.
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  #44  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2005, 2:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Bond Agent 007
Japanese market share is currently at an all-time high:
--> Click here <--
Right, and in this case the market trend upward can be attributed to different reasons (as the articles describe).

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that your observation about seeing more older American cars on the road in your area is valid.

One thing that occurred to me is that older American cars may be more appealing to work on than foreigns (??). I don't know. Just a guess. At some point any car is going to require repair in its lifetime. I have a 1970 Olds quietly rusting under a cover patiently waiting its one day restoration. Personally, tinkering on an '85 Civic wouldn't be as gratifying. Perhaps to someone else.

But a newer American car for day to day? Not for this customer.
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  #45  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2005, 8:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Bond Agent 007
^^
Based on what I see on the road, I have no choice but to conclude that American cars last longer than Japanese ones. Start observing this yourself: Look around at all the old cars you see on the road, and notice how few of them are Japanese, and how many of them are American (and lots of European ones, too).
that is a faulty conclusion. there are cultural factors that might explain why people who were likely to purchase american cars during that time choose to keep their cars, while those who purchase japanese weren't. my 97 accord is running tip top at 190,000, but i'm already looking for a new car anyways. my neighbor tinkers with his 83 chevy all day long, but it's always been his baby.

also, you're going by personal observation. where you live might not be the case elsewhere. and the quality of japanese cars WAS superior to domestic in the 70s-80s. that has never been a controversy. even domestic auto admits it.
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  #46  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2005, 10:25 PM
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I have known that Japanese cars last longer on average than American from what I've seen, tho it depends how the owner takes care of the car and reliabity varies by mileage and owner.

My car has 80,000 miles on it and still runs fine, It's a 1994 Honda civic, too. I had a 1983 Honda Civic and it still ran fine with 210,000+ miles on it and broke down only ONCE because of the manual transmission went out and got it rebuilt and back up running again, during my mom had it and gave it to me. Also, my parents 1993 Honda Accord had 175,000 miles on it and still ran great, sold it and got a 2005 Honda Accord. Also, the 1986 Nissan truck they had had 138,000 miles on it and still runs solid.

Let me tell you this, I'm a bit surprised to hear my co worker has a 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass with 500,000 miles on it and still runs, but beginning to fall apart. It's american...don't ask me how it still runs. :-P

My girlfriend has a 1991 Pontiac Sunbird, it breaks down almost all the time and has problems time to time.
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  #47  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2005, 10:31 PM
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Toyota is poised to race past GM
By Hans Greimel
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Wednesday, Nov. 23 2005

WHAT'S HAPPENING: General Motors could lose its title as the worldwide leader
in automobile production.
WHY: Toyota is increasing its production in the United States, while GM is
cutting its North America factories.
WHAT COULD CHANGE: GM is making gains in Asia, which could hold off Toyota's
claim.


TOKYO

Toyota Motor Corp. is quickening its quest to unseat ailing rival General
Motors Corp. as the world's biggest automaker with reported plans to start
manufacturing up to 100,000 Toyota vehicles at a Subaru factory in Indiana.

Word of Toyota's ramped-up production schedule comes only days after
money-losing GM said it will close 12 facilities by 2008 in a move that will
slash the number of vehicles it is able to build in North America by about 1
million a year.

The combined developments could help Toyota surpass GM in worldwide production,
although it's unclear if that would happen because Detroit-based GM is growing
rapidly in Asia.

Toyota expects to produce 8.1 million vehicles this year, while GM expects 9
million, according to Greg Gardner of Harbour Consulting, a manufacturing
consulting firm.

Toyota will also chip away at GM's lead with a new pickup plant scheduled to
open next year in San Antonio that will add 200,000 vehicles to Toyota's annual
capacity.

The Japanese company's output will be boosted by another 100,000 vehicles in
2008, when Toyota's new RAV 4 plant comes online in Canada.

Under the latest expansion plans, the world's No. 2 automaker has asked Fuji
Heavy Industries, maker of Subaru autos, to start building Toyotas in 2007 at a
Lafayette, Ind., factory operated by Fuji's wholly owned subsidiary, Subaru of
Indiana Automotive, the Asahi newspaper reported Wednesday, without identifying
its sources.

Company representatives were unavailable for comment on Wednesday, a national
holiday in Japan.

Ann McConnell, a spokeswoman for Subaru of Indiana, said Fuji Heavy Industries
and Toyota Motor Corp. have been in discussions, but that there has been no
word of a decision.

There are five to six candidate models for production, the newspaper said, with
the number manufactured annually to gradually increase to 100,000 vehicles.
Earlier reports have suggested that Toyota might produce hybrid vehicles at the
Fuji plant.

The Indiana plant produced nearly 120,000 Subaru models last year.

It wasn't immediately clear if Subaru production would be reduced or what the
factory's total vehicle output would be.

Fuji teamed up with Toyota in October after ending a five-year tie-up with GM,
which sold its 20 percent in the Japanese company. Toyota, based in Toyota City
in central Japan, bought an 8.7 percent stake from GM for about $315 million to
become Fuji's top shareholder.

Overall, GM lost almost $4 billion in the first nine months of this year, hit
by falling sales and rising health care costs. Its share of the U.S. market has
shrunk to 26.2 percent from 33 percent a decade ago.

GM's plant closings, which will entail 30,000 job cuts, are meant to chop $7
billion off its $42 billion annual bill for operations by the end of next year,
including a $3 billion cut in health care costs.

Toyota, by contrast, is on pace to set a fourth straight year of record profits.

Both GM and Ford Motor Co., the world's third-biggest automaker, are seeing
their U.S. market share shrink because of Toyota and other Asian competitors.
Toyota, Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. all are reporting healthy earnings
bolstered by their reputation for well-built, fuel-efficient cars at a time of
surging gas prices.

GM's tie-up with Fuji was largely deemed a flop. But access to Fuji's plants
could help Toyota boost production at a time of soaring sales, analysts say,
although Fuji has only the one plant in North America, so additional capacity
will be limited.

Completed in 1988, the Indiana factory was built under a joint-venture
agreement between Fuji and Isuzu Motors Ltd. Fuji bought out Isuzu's share in
the venture and became sole operator of the plant in 2003.

After GM's latest cost cuts, the company will be able to build about 4.2
million vehicles a year in North America, down 30 percent from 2002. Toyota is
expected to have North American capacity of about 1.81 million cars by then, up
from 1.44 million vehicles last year, Toyota spokesman Dan Sieger said Monday.

China is one bright spot for GM, which said last month that sales there rose
27.8 percent in the first three quarters of the year to 472,468 vehicles.
Growth was fueled partly by a mini-vehicle joint venture with Shanghai
Automotive Industrial Corp. and Wuling Automotive.

GM and Toyota have a long-standing partnership to share environmental
technology, and they run a car assembly plant in California together, although
the ties do not involve holding stakes in each other.

Out of concern for GM's plight, and possibly to stave off an anti-Japanese
backlash by American consumers, Toyota Chairman Hiroshi Okuda suggested earlier
this year that Toyota should raise the price of car models in the United States
to level the playing field. Toyota raised prices soon after, but denied the
move was to placate U.S. automakers.
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  #48  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2005, 10:33 PM
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I would like to mention my parents have driven their '94 Taurus to the ground, and it still drives. They also had an '83 Chevy Caprice Classic that only was retired in 2002! I don't really care the make of the car being Japanese, but it's also nicer if they're built in the US or Canada.
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  #49  
Old Posted Nov 26, 2005, 1:36 AM
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edluva-

As I said, here in Washington state, Japanese cars have constituted about half of the cars sold here almost since I first moved here in '88. And yet, the percentage of old (>10 or 15 years) cars I see on the road that are American cars far outnumbers the old Japanese cars I see on the road.

If Japanese cars really did last longer than American ones, and since the Japanese-domestic ratio here has been about 50-50 for at least 15 years, it would stand that I would see more old Japanese cars on the road around here than American ones, because they originally numbered about the same as domestic makes, and they supposedly outlast American cars.

But that's not what I see - what I see on the roads is the opposite of what you would expect to see if Japanese cars really did outlast American makes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sequoias
Let me tell you this, I'm a bit surprised to hear my co worker has a 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass with 500,000 miles on it and still runs, but beginning to fall apart. It's american...don't ask me how it still runs. :-P
This is exactly what I'm talking about - this car is almost 20 years old with 500K miles and it is STILL on the road!

Of course a 20-year-old car with half a million miles on it is going to have some problems!! But at least it's still on the road! I rarely see any 20-year-old Japanese cars on the road at all!

The more I read about these stories of people's old cars, the more I'm beginning to think that this Japanese-cars-last-longer thing is largely an urban myth.
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  #50  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2005, 7:15 PM
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I grew up in Mid-Michigan. Not far from Buick City. We always drove GM cars. I flew back there two months ago and rented a car at Detroit Metro airport. There was one Hyundai in the whole lot. It was parked up front with the mid-size cars, and the rep said,"That one has problems, you don't want to rent it."

GM cars are like couches on wheels. When you have roads like Michigan, that freeze and thaw all the time, you need a comfortable ride. A milder climate allows for a stiffer, sportier suspension.

How many people in the Pacific NW like Airbus planes? How many people in St. Louis drink Corona? How many people in Vermont put Aunt Jemima syrup on their waffles? How many Apple computers are there in Austin, TX where Dell and IBM employ over 22,000 people? Don't expect the midwest to have any less regional pride. Their friends and neighbors have jobs there. It still matters in that part of the country - always will.
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  #51  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2005, 9:39 PM
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December 31, 2005

Poor year is closing for Big 3
U.S. automakers lost market share in 2005
By Sarah Karush
Associated Press
December 31, 2005

DETROIT -- A lackluster December is expected to cap a dismal year for U.S. automakers, who saw Asian competitors eat away at their market share throughout 2005.
Analysts are forecasting a weaker month than December 2004, as the impact of traditional year-end deals was muted by deep discounts during the summer. However, the month's sales are likely to be vastly improved from the autumn slump that followed the end of the summer's promotions.
Automakers are scheduled to report December results on Wednesday.
Full-year sales are expected to be essentially flat, but with market share losses for the Big Three, whose best sellers -- gas-guzzling trucks -- fell out of favor.
General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group had a combined U.S. year-to-date market share of 57 percent at the end of November, down from 60 percent two years before.
Robert Barry, an analyst with Goldman Sachs, estimated their December market share at 54.5 percent, down from 58.1 percent last year.
Early numbers released mid-month indicated that sales got off to a slow start in December, traditionally a time of brisk sales thanks to year-end deals. U.S. sales were down 14 percent for the first 11 days of the month, according to the Power Information Network, a division of the marketing research and consulting firm J.D. Power and Associates.
Though the pace picked up later, analysts John Murphy, of Merrill Lynch, and David Healy, of Burnham Securities, both predicted December sales would be 5 percent below year-ago levels.
GM, Ford and Chrysler saw sales soar to near-record levels this summer with discounts that let consumers pay the employee price. But sales plummeted as soon as the discounts expired in October.
The automakers returned to incentives at the end of the year, though after the summer's deals they had less effect than in previous years.
Analysts said the biggest change in 2005 was a shift toward cars and away from trucks.
"This shift has been especially prominent in (the) last four months as September's hurricanes and $3/gallon gasoline served as a turning point in consumer preference," Murphy noted, adding that if it continues, the trend could accelerate the market share loss of GM, Ford and Chrysler. The domestic Big Three rely on SUVs and other light trucks for the majority of their sales.
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  #52  
Old Posted Dec 31, 2005, 10:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Bond Agent 007
edluva-

As I said, here in Washington state, Japanese cars have constituted about half of the cars sold here almost since I first moved here in '88. And yet, the percentage of old (>10 or 15 years) cars I see on the road that are American cars far outnumbers the old Japanese cars I see on the road.

If Japanese cars really did last longer than American ones, and since the Japanese-domestic ratio here has been about 50-50 for at least 15 years, it would stand that I would see more old Japanese cars on the road around here than American ones, because they originally numbered about the same as domestic makes, and they supposedly outlast American cars.

But that's not what I see - what I see on the roads is the opposite of what you would expect to see if Japanese cars really did outlast American makes.
Could it be that people are more hesistant to replace their big old American cars, because there are no new replacements on the market for them now, whereas with the Japanese cars, they were compact then and they are now, so people feel they might as well do with the newer models?

Also, could it be there's more of an export market for used Japanese cars to foreign, poor countries, since they don't use up as much gas and have the reputation to last?
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  #53  
Old Posted Jan 1, 2006, 2:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutterbug
Could it be that people are more hesistant to replace their big old American cars, because there are no new replacements on the market for them now, whereas with the Japanese cars, they were compact then and they are now, so people feel they might as well do with the newer models?

Also, could it be there's more of an export market for used Japanese cars to foreign, poor countries, since they don't use up as much gas and have the reputation to last?
Not all of the old American cars I see on the road are big ones. I still see a fair number of 80's Cavaliers kicking around, for example. But I *don't* see very many 80's Corollas kicking around.

Don't know anything about the export market for used cars.
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  #54  
Old Posted Jan 1, 2006, 2:57 AM
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BTW, I'm renting a 2006 Nissan Sentra this weekend which had a paltry 1,100 miles on it. I've also rented Ford Focus', Chevy Malibus and a Kia Rio in the past several months.

The automatic transmission on the Rio was just awful - don't even think about going up a hill and retaining your sanity.

The Malibu was nice. Had no complaints about it at all. So was the Focus.

The Sentra I'm now renting is nice, too. However, I really don't sense any qualitative difference between it and, say, the Focus, which is a direct competitor. Some Japanese car-snobs would have you believe that to sit down in a Japanese car would make one cum in their pants from its excellent-ness, and that sitting down in an American car would make it fall apart instantly. Or something like that.

But the Sentra I'm renting now is really no different than the Focus. It's nice, but I don't see anything to get so excited about.

Frankly, of all the cars I've rented recently, the one I liked the best was the Malibu.
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  #55  
Old Posted Jan 1, 2006, 4:19 PM
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I have seen lots of old late '80s early 90's Japanese cars though, much more than US cars. Civics, Corollas, Camrys, etc.
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  #56  
Old Posted Jan 2, 2006, 3:59 AM
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^
Well, that's not what I see.

That's not to say I don't see any Japanese cars from the 80's and earlier, it's just that the overwhelming majority of the cars from that era I see still on the road are American cars.
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  #57  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2006, 3:34 PM
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GM surpasses VW to become top-selling foreign automaker in China last year
CHRISTOPHER BODEEN
Thu Jan 5, 1:49 PM ET
SHANGHAI (AP) - General Motors Corp. became China's top-selling foreign automaker last year, surpassing Germany's Volkswagen AG, after seeing its sales grow 35.2 per cent to 665,390 vehicles, according to company figures released Thursday.

South Korea's Hyundai and Japan's Honda also reported strong growth, while Volkswagen, the former market leader, saw its sales decline in 2005.

GM, which is looking to growth in China to make up for its shrinking market share in the U.S., said sales were driven by the continuing popularity of its Buick brand, led by the Excelle sedan and hatchback.

It sold 105,000 of those two models through September, according to the China Auto Industry Association, although GM (NYSE:GM - news) gave no figures for the entire year.

Sales of the Buick GL8 luxury passenger van also recorded steady growth, while newly introduced Chevrolet and Cadillac models also did well.

The sales growth gives GM, the world's largest automaker, about 11.2 per cent of the Chinese market, up from 9.4 per cent in 2003, the company said.

Nearly all GM cars sold in China are made domestically.

The company has opened a second plant in Shanghai last year and added three new Chevrolet models in 2005, the Sail compact car, Epica intermediate sedan and Aveo hatchback. That pushed China sales for the brand past the 100,000 mark for the first time, establishing China as Chevrolet's fourth-largest global market.

"We have no intention of letting up on the accelerator," Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group, was quoted as saying in the release.

Volkswagen, which once had more than half of China's car market, said overall sales declined for the second straight year, falling about 15 per cent to 564,306.

Annual sales at its flagship Shanghai joint venture fell 19 per cent to 287,000 vehicles, said a company official speaking on condition of anonymity. Its other joint venture, China Volkswagen Automotive, saw sales edge up just 3.2 per cent to 277,306 units from 268,000 in 2004.

VW has seen its market share drop sharply from over 50 per cent in the 1990s. Hoping to regain lost ground, it has slashed prices and announced plans to introduce up to 12 new models in China by 2009 while cutting costs and improving service.

Hyundai Motor Co., meanwhile, reported annual sales of 233,668 cars produced by its Beijing Hyundai Motor joint venture, up 62 per cent from 2004, spokesman Sun Zhenjie said.

Growth came mostly from its Elantra model, the mainstay of Beijing's taxi fleet and the mainland's second best selling sedan after China's own Xiali.

The Korean company aims to boost production and sales by about 30 per cent in 2006 to 300,000 units, Sun said. Targets call for China production capacity of 600,000 units by 2008.

Japanese carmaker Honda Motor Co. reported a 19.1 per cent rise in sales to 255,500 units in 2005, public relations manager Masaya Nagai said. Production in China last year rose 24.4 per cent to 266,500 units, he said.

The company aims to raise sales 38 per cent this year to 353,000 cars and boost production 41 per cent to 375,000 units, Nagai said.

Meanwhile, GM's flagship joint venture in Shanghai, Shanghai General Motors Corp., sold 325,429 vehicles, up 28.7 per cent from the previous year, the company said in a release.

Minivans and small trucks sold under the Wuling brand - made at the GM's joint venture in southwestern China, SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co. - benefited from strong sales in rural China and cities in the relatively poorer interior, it said. That joint venture sold 337,188 units, up 43.4 per cent from 2004.

New models under the Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac brands will be introduced this year to keep up with what Wale predicted would be 10 and 15 per cent growth in the Chinese vehicle market.

GM gave no figures for profits in its China operations.

But in July-September quarter, GM earned $176 million US in Asia while losing $1.6 billion in North America. In 2004, GM sold 4.7 million cars and trucks in the U.S. and 4.3 million elsewhere.
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Old Posted Jan 7, 2006, 3:34 PM
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Chevrolet surpasses Ford as No. 1 brand in U.S. sales in 2005
January 4, 2006 - 18:21
By DEE-ANN DURBIN

DETROIT (AP) - Chevrolet was the best-selling brand in the U.S. market in 2005, outpacing Ford for the first time in 19 years, General Motors Corp. said Wednesday. But that was where the good news ended for GM and other U.S. automakers, who continued to lose ground to foreign rivals.

Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. and South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. all reported sales increases of nine per cent or more for the year. Toyota, whose U.S. sales were up 10 per cent over 2004, said its Camry sedan was the best-selling car in the United States for the fourth year in a row, while its Lexus nameplate was the best-selling luxury brand.

Meanwhile, 2005 sales fell four per cent at both U.S. industry leaders GM and Ford Motor Co., while DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group sales rose five per cent.

U.S. automakers also reported disappointing results for December despite a new round of holiday discounts. GM's December sales were down 10 per cent, Ford fell 8.7 per cent and Chrysler was down five per cent as payback from strong summer sales continued.

Asian automakers fared better in December, in part because they didn't offer employee-discounts over the summer. Toyota's December sales were up eight per cent, while Hyundai's were up nearly 16 per cent as customers snapped up the 2006 Sonata. Honda Motor Co.'s December sales were off three per cent while Nissan's were off one per cent.

GM's sales decline for the year included a seven per cent decline in car sales and a two per cent decline in sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles. Although Chevrolet sales slipped slightly from last year to 2.6 million, they outpaced Ford by around 21,000 vehicles thanks to strong pickup sales and enthusiasm for GM's new HHR crossover.

Paul Ballew, GM's executive director of market and industry analysis, said the year-end totals were below the company's expectations. But he said the win for Chevrolet gives the world's largest automaker an important boost. GM lost nearly $4 billion US in the first nine months of 2005 as it struggled with high costs and falling U.S. market share.

"It does confirm our ability to produce industry-leading vehicles," Ballew said.

Ford's sales drop for 2005 reflected lower consumer demand for trucks and sport utility vehicles in the face of high gas prices. Chrysler's rise for the year was due to hot-selling models like the Chrysler 300 sedan and the Town & Country minivan, which both saw sales increase more than 25 per cent for the year.

Japan's Honda reported an increase of five per cent over 2004 sales. Honda's car sales were flat but the automaker's truck and SUV sales rose nearly 14 per cent, largely on the strength of the Honda Pilot small SUV and Honda's new Ridgeline pickup. Honda said it was the company's 12th consecutive year of U.S. sales increases.

It was a tumultuous year for automakers, who enjoyed near-record sales thanks to employee-pricing discounts over the summer but watched large SUV sales plummet when gas prices spiked after hurricane Katrina. Ford's U.S. sales analysis manager George Pipas predicted SUV sales will stabilize in the coming year as long as gas prices remain lower than $3 a gallon.

"This is still a big segment, this is still a popular segment that meets the needs of many consumers," he said. "The wild card is gas prices."

But Pipas also said there is a definite consumer trend away from SUVs in favour of cars and crossovers, which are car-based SUVs. Ford, the second biggest automaker after GM, said 2005 car sales rose five per cent for its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands, but truck and SUV sales fell eight per cent. Pipas said it was the first year since 1981 that cars gained market share against trucks.

Ford also said sales of its crossover vehicles rose 28 per cent. The company predicted crossover sales will continue to outpace all other categories through the end of the decade.

Automakers expressed optimism about 2006. Ballew said the economy is expanding just as new vehicles are hitting the pipeline.

"It's not the perfect backdrop because energy prices are higher than people anticipated, but the overall backdrop for this industry is not that poor," Ballew said.

Sales figures were adjusted for the number of sales days. There were 307 sales days in 2005 and 308 sales days in 2004.

GM shares rose 51 cents to close at $19.41 on the New York Stock Exchange while Ford shares rose 18 cents to end at $8.01 and DaimlerChrysler's U.S. shares lost 24 cents to $53.51. Toyota's U.S. shares fell 26 cents to close at $106.59 on the NYSE.
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New Ford executive Mark Fields emphasizes brand's American identity
January 4, 2006 - 18:13
By TIM MOLLOY

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Ford Motor Co.'s new president of the Americas on Wednesday aggressively promoted the brand's U.S. identity and charged that foreign competitors were posturing as American.

"In terms of economic and social influence there is no other company that's had a greater impact on the lives of people in this country and in the 20th century than Ford," Mark Fields said in a speech at the L.A. Auto Show.

Fields said that "many brands want to be American" and he specifically pointed to Toyota Motor Corp. as "desperately trying to cast itself as an American brand."

"Toyota is trying to be American because they realize the market potential is huge," he said.

Fields' comments came as Ford and other U.S. automakers are losing billions of dollars as well as U.S. market share to Toyota and other Asian carmakers. Fields was named president of Ford's Americas division in September and is developing a restructuring plan expected to include plant closings and job cuts that is scheduled to be announced on Jan. 23.

He was formerly executive vice-president of Europe and the Premier Automotive Group, the London-based company that oversees sales, distribution and other services for Ford's high-end brands like Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover.

As he was talking to the audience in Los Angeles, Ford was reporting its sales dropped four per cent in 2005 as consumer demand for trucks and sport utility vehicles fell in the face of high gas prices. General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet surpassed Ford as the best-selling brand in the U.S. market in 2005 for the first time in 19 years. GM is the biggest U.S. automaker and Ford is second.

Responding to Fields' remarks, Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said, "We view ourselves as the customers' brand, nothing more and nothing less."

Toyota has advertised its manufacturing in the United States "to make sure people are informed about the positive economic impact that we have here," Michels said.

"In the end," he added, "all automakers are international brands."

Fields told the Los Angeles audience the days of the Big Three - GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group - were over and have been replaced by a "Big Six" in which everything is up for grabs.

Using such phrases as "red, white and bold" and "bold, American and innovative" to describe Ford's new strategy, he said, "It's time to play offence" to preserve Ford's market share.

Fields said Ford's strategy would include a new emphasis on crossover vehicles that include many of the comforts and conveniences of sport utility vehicles but handle more like cars than trucks and have better fuel economy than SUVs.

Fields described what he said was his company's unique relationship with consumers, saying Ford had most success in the areas where it best knew its customers, including the market for the aggressive 550 horsepower V-8 Ford GT.

"Ford vehicles from the Model T to the Mustang are in our national consciousness," he said.

Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research, a Bandon, Ore., auto research firm, said Field's remarks reflect fears that foreign automakers will break into the full-sized truck market in the mountain states and southeast, where loyalty to American trucks is high.

Ford was particularly threatened by Toyota opening a truck plant in Texas because it could diminish customer loyalty there to American automakers, Spinella said. The company is trying to hold onto its 45 per cent share of the full-size pickup market, he said.

Foreign automakers "don't have a very big slice of large trucks, but once they didn't have a large slice of the car market either," Spinella said.

In his remarks, Fields dismissed the "much talked about new competition" for Ford's F-Series trucks without naming specific competitors.
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Thursday, January 5, 2006
Welcome mat's out for Toyota
No plans for new plant, but Ohio ready anyway

By Mike Boyer
Enquirer staff writer

Toyota says it has no immediate plans to build another North American assembly or engine plant, but Ohio Gov. Bob Taft wants to be ready just in case.

In response to a reporter's question Wednesday, Taft said the state has offered the automaker a free site and annual grants of $2 million for 15 years should it locate in the Buckeye State.

"We are definitely competing aggressively for that project," Taft said Wednesday during a bill-signing ceremony in Columbus for the Jobs for Ohio bond issue.

Victor Vanov, a spokesman for Toyota's North American manufacturing headquarters in Erlanger, said there were no current plans to build new facilities, but that could change if sales stay strong.

And a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Development said the automaker "has no specific expansion plans," but the state and Toyota are constantly talking about potential plant sites, including three in Southwest Ohio.

"The reality is Toyota is a year or more away from making any decision,'' department spokesman Merrel Madrid said.

Michigan, already reeling from planned or impending cuts by General Motors and Ford Motor Co., has been aggressively wooing Toyota, said David Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Michigan.

"Toyota's a smart company,'' he said. "They're particularly concerned about their impact on traditional manufacturers."

While sales by the Big 3 have been declining, Toyota's North American sales have been growing. Toyota said Wednesday that North American auto sales topped 2.26 million units in 2005, up 10 percent from 2004.

But Toyota, which has 11 assembly and parts plants in North America and is building new vehicle plants in San Antonio, Texas, and Woodstock, Ontario, probably isn't looking for additional assembly plants, Cole said.

Toyota's agreement last month with Fuji Heavy Industries to use excess capacity at its Lafayette, Ind., assembly plant eases its need for additional assembly capacity for the near future, Cole said.

Yet Toyota, which will unveil its new hybrid Camry at the Detroit Auto Show Monday, may need additional engine-plant capacity within the next year or two, he said.

Toyota's largest plant outside Japan is the 7,000-employee Georgetown, Ky., factory, which is marking its 20th year and will begin assembling the first hybrid-powered Camry.

Toyota officials have said they are unlikely expand in Kentucky.

They cited the size of their operations already in the commonwealth.

Workforce is key

Toyota typically seeks plant sites of a couple hundred acres with access to rail. But Cole said the most critical element is access to plenty of trainable workers.

"They typically want eight or 10 applicants for every job,'' he said. "And they want to be the highest-paying employer in the area.''

The popular perception is that Toyota and other foreign-owned auto makers seek communities without heavy union activity. But Cole said, "That's not necessarily the case. Their joint venture with General Motors Corp. in California is a plant represented by the United Auto Workers.''

Possible sites include areas in Clinton, Fayette and Preble counties, according to an Oct. 19 letter Taft sent to Seiichi Sudo, president and chief executive officer of Toyota's North American manufacturing headquarters in Erlanger.

Those southwestern Ohio sites are accessible to Toyota's current network of suppliers and offer immediate access to skilled auto workers, Taft said in the letter.

Brown County, east of Cincinnati, is another possibility, said Madrid.

Car makers wanted

Taft personally escorted Hyundai executives to Mount Orab and other sites in Southwest Ohio in 2002, when the South Korean automaker was considering Ohio and Kentucky for an assembly plant that was built outside Montgomery, Ala.

A decade earlier, Mount Orab was briefly considered by Toyota for the pickup truck plant that was subsequently built in Princeton, Ind., near Evansville.

Toyota is operating beyond its current North American plant capacity, with 1.45 million cars and trucks built in the United States through November, up from 1.41 million for all of 2004.
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