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  • GM tops Ford, BMW catches Merc?

    cAs the clock ticks down on a difficult year for General Motors Corp., the company's Chevrolet division finds itself on the cusp of doing something it hasn't accomplished in nearly two decades: overtake Ford Motor Co.'s Ford nameplate as the No. 1 brand in the U.S. market.

    Chevrolet has played second fiddle in terms of sales and market share in its home market to its rival for the past 18 years.

    But through the first 10 months of this year, the two brands each had 15.7 percent of the U.S. market for new cars and light trucks, amid heavy discounting and market-share losses to Asia-based auto makers like Toyota Motor Corp.

    Executives at GM are hopeful that the company's year-end clearance will enable Chevrolet to come out on top, potentially energizing Chevrolet dealers as it launches its GMT-900 line of pickups and sport-utility vehicles.

    GM and Ford are in the process of restructuring their North American operations, which have posted billions of dollars in losses in recent months as the companies contend with high cost structures, changing consumer preferences and competition from foreign car makers.

    Bragging rights may seem trivial at such a time, but executives say market leadership in the U.S. is critical.

    "To be the industry leader would be a great thing," said Ed Peper, general manager of GM's Chevrolet division.

    GM remains the No. 1 automaker in the U.S. by sales when its other brands, like Cadillac, GMC and Saturn, are included. Ford also makes the Lincoln and Mercury brands.
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    Michael Ganal, member of the BMW board responsible for sales and marketing, is forecasting BMW Group sales of 1.3 million in 2005, up from 1.2 million in 2004. In the first nine months of the year, BMW brand sales were up 11 percent, and Mini sales were up 12 percent.

    The newspaper expects Mercedes Car Group to finish this year with sales slightly up on 2004's 1.23m units, having recorded 1-percent growth in the year to the end of September. Audi is also growing and expects to record a sales level of around 840,000 units in 2005. In the first three quarters its sales were up 11 percent. Audi reportedly expects to break the 1 million sales barrier by 2007 or 2008.

    Mercedes has been hit by quality problems this year which have resulted in large-scale product recalls and low scores in customer satisfaction surveys. Exchange rate problems have prevented Mercedes from selling its two small cars, the A-Class and B-Class, in the U.S., while Mercedes' Smart small car brand has underperformed badly. Smart's rival, BMW's Mini, has been a runaway success and expects sales in excess of 200,000 this year.
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  • #2
    Yeah, but Toyota is the world leader in profits, and unit sales will be number one in the world by Q1 or Q2 in 2006.
    ...Always follow the money

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    • #3
      I believe Toyota is going to catch GM - I own 2 of their cars - but not quite that quickly.

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      • #4
        BTW, on a related note, last month, the Big 3 fell to an all-time low and now hold something like 52% of the US market and will almost surely be under 50% by the end of next year. And I'm as much to blame as anyone; I own 3 cars - 2 are Japanese and 1 is German. The last US vehicle I bought was a Ford F-150 in 1994.

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        • #5
          Somewaht OT I know, but I felt it at least needed to be put in to some perspective...

          OK.. so GM is the #1 auto maker in the US by sales.... Big Whooop... both GM and Ford reported losses exceeding $1 billion in their North American operations in the third quarter. You can sell all you want, but what good is it if you continue to lose money in the process...?!?!?!

          They can badmouth DC all they want, they still posted a profit over the same period... Granted, it's down compared to last year, but a profit none-the-less. The smallest one of the US big three is at least moving in a more positive direction than either GM or Ford. DC beat them to the restructuring punch, steamlined its auto parts buying process,and found ways to expand their lineup along the way to offset the SUV crunch...

          Granted, DC is porbably still no match for the likes of Toyota or Honda, but they are at least positioned better than GM or Ford at this point for economic survival...

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          • #6
            GM may not be as bad off as you think. They have a bunch of new product coming on line soon and they are moving aggressively to deal with their labor problems although not necessarily of their own choice.

            Ford is the one that's going to be in trouble, IMHO. Once sales of the retro-Mustang cool off, they are going to be scrambling. The 500 is DOA and Ford is rolling out new SUVs to yawns and indifference.

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            • #7
              The locals have the same problems for years - they only play to their followings (Hey, sounds like several BB's I know !! :wink: ). Ford won't take a chance if you hit them in the had with them (re: the 500. About as generic as can be. Even the F150 is plane Jane). GM for years thought the best way to reinvent a model was more plastic cladding. Truck sales slow? Ad some plastic to the bottom to make it look sportier! And they should have fired their entire interior development team for such hard plastic innards (they are getting better though).

              But the biggest problems is they can't change as fast as the Imports can. The asian companies will retool a loser in 1/3 the time the domestics will (and see it is a loser much faster!). Also, GM and Ford have become followers, not trend setters. They continue to believe Trucks and SUV's will be their saviours while Toyota CAN'T make enought Scions !! The domestics argue that they make more $$ per truck than Toyo make per tC. So what if they both make $$? One group has excess inventory and one has empty inventory. Hmmm. Eveyone loves the Mustang, but it is just an updated fastback. No real chances there. If DCX came out with the same thing based on a '71 cuda, they'd sell a ton of those too, but it wouldn't be very imagainative.

              Another note is that the auto industry is unbelievably insular. Most auto exec's haven't had to buy or have their cars serviced for 1/2 of their careers. They also don't have to shop and compare. You get such a sweet deal when you work there that you are a fool to buy another brand. And when you get up there a bit in your career, you get even sweeter deals on leases and such. Heck, here in Detroit there are dealers that survive ONLY on employee sales. It is to the point here that dealers close here at 5:00pm most days and are closed weekends !! For the most part, you can only buy a car during the day, or on a Tue. or Thur till 9:00. Maybe on a Sat till noon.

              And they wonder whats wrong.....

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              • #8
                Ah yes, the GM Philosophy of car sales, "We'll sell the cars at a loss, but we'll make it up in volume."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by JoeBob
                  Ah yes, the GM Philosophy of car sales, "We'll sell the cars at a loss, but we'll make it up in volume."
                  They should increase their investment in NASCAR to double and triple the returns they supposedly get.
                  “Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.” -- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jim Wilke
                    The last US vehicle I bought was a Ford F-150 in 1994.
                    Is one of the Japanese vehicles a replacement pickup for the F-150? If so, how does it compare?

                    GV

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                    • #11
                      Not exactly - For 20 years, I drove an F-series daily but I had enough when I bought that '94. I ordered the cool Eddie Bauer version, captain's chairs and all the power toys, 351 with auto and then had a glass toneau cover painted to match. It looked great. I hated that thing - it rode like a lumber truck, used more gas than an airliner and worst of all, just wasn't practical. The topper was when I went to grocery store, got home and found all my stuff rolling around in the bed, way up by the cab so there I am crawling around in the bed chasing oranges. After that, I'd load the groceries in the cab and I got to thinking how stupid that was - driving around getting 8 mpg with an empty pickup box and all my stuff on the floorboards.

                      In '97, I turned the F-150 into a company delivery truck and bought my first Audi sedan. I've had 2 more since and will get another in 2 years. About the same time, my wife decided she wanted to switch from a coupe to an SUV so now when I need to haul something, I switch cars with her; her current ride is a Lexus RX-330 which she likes a lot more than the BMW X-5 4.4 that it replaced. If this was a perfect world, I'd own an old beater F-150 4wd, an '89 with a 300 six and 4WD would be fine but I don't have a lot of room to park stuff and I don't have a lot of patience screwing around with old trucks that break down and I darn sure don't want to spend $25K on a newer truck that I would drive 5 times a year.

                      So if I was a good American, what would I choose? Well, unless I miss my guess, no American car company builds anything similar to the Audi A-8 I drive and I don't think they have anything that stacks up with the RX-330, either with the possible exception of the Cad SRX which I couldn't get my wife to look at.

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                      • #12
                        GM and Ford on the verge of going out of business. Overtaking each other would be a hollow victory, imo.

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                        • #13
                          Jim,
                          It's not in the same league as your Audi A-8, but the new Ford 500 is really a nice AWD automobile. I have drivena couple of rentals and they go pretty well, handle suprisingly well, and are resonably priced.

                          The new Caddilacs are nice too. I've driven the STS (rental) and it ROCKS. This weekend I'm doing a Car and Driver STS/BMW 5 series comparison @ the ballpark in Arlington. I'll have feedback on the two Monday.

                          All that said, GM is still in trouble, Toyota is still gonna be #1 by all measures in 2006, and like you said FORD could be the next Chysler bailout case. Paging Mr. Iacocca.............
                          ...Always follow the money

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                          • #14
                            Excellent thread...
                            Very good points, especially Invader Zim's and Wilke's!!! Reminds me of this past weeks Autoline Detrioit show on SpeedTV also talked about GM and Ford's woes vs. Toyota's profits as well.

                            A very similar discussion to this...

                            On a side note, I bought a new Mercedes C class at the end of August, and have had zero problems so far, the car is a joy to drive, get's ok gas milage and the build quality is second to none!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jim Wilke
                              Not exactly - For 20 years, I drove an F-series daily but I had enough when I bought that '94. I ordered the cool Eddie Bauer version, captain's chairs and all the power toys, 351 with auto and then had a glass toneau cover painted to match. It looked great. I hated that thing - it rode like a lumber truck, used more gas than an airliner and worst of all, just wasn't practical. The topper was when I went to grocery store, got home and found all my stuff rolling around in the bed, way up by the cab so there I am crawling around in the bed chasing oranges. After that, I'd load the groceries in the cab and I got to thinking how stupid that was - driving around getting 8 mpg with an empty pickup box and all my stuff on the floorboards.

                              In '97, I turned the F-150 into a company delivery truck and bought my first Audi sedan. I've had 2 more since and will get another in 2 years. About the same time, my wife decided she wanted to switch from a coupe to an SUV so now when I need to haul something, I switch cars with her; her current ride is a Lexus RX-330 which she likes a lot more than the BMW X-5 4.4 that it replaced. If this was a perfect world, I'd own an old beater F-150 4wd, an '89 with a 300 six and 4WD would be fine but I don't have a lot of room to park stuff and I don't have a lot of patience screwing around with old trucks that break down and I darn sure don't want to spend $25K on a newer truck that I would drive 5 times a year.

                              So if I was a good American, what would I choose? Well, unless I miss my guess, no American car company builds anything similar to the Audi A-8 I drive and I don't think they have anything that stacks up with the RX-330, either with the possible exception of the Cad SRX which I couldn't get my wife to look at.
                              I think you probably made the correct decision when you decided you really didn't need a pickup. Too many people don't make such analytical decisions.

                              I do use a pickup to haul stuff that I'd just as soon not share "living" space with. I was curious about what experience you may have had with the Japanese pickups, but you short-circuited that option by getting out of the market.

                              I currently have a '99 F-150, 5.4L 4x4. I have the roll-up tonneau rather than the glass version. It's my first pickup without a topper, and I have made the transition pretty well. As far as stuff rolling around in the box.....I have a bed liner with slots for partitions that works well. You can make a partition yourself or buy any number of after-market versions. Groceries are accessable by lowering the tailgate without changing tonneau position.

                              I've had 3 full-size Dodge pickups with 318 and 360 V8's, and this F-150 5.4L. All got about the same mileage......14-15 in town, 17-18 on the road. Never better, but never worse. I had two Dodge Dakotas with the V6....and never got much better. I'm a full-size pickup bigot. I like the cabin room and the "big" feel. I've probably long since become immune to any "lumber truck" feel it may have. I virtually never drive cars......and they all feel like death-traps to me when I sit in them. I prefer the big seats and the higher seating position that Dodge and Ford have vs. GM. Our hunting group has covered all the Big-3 American pickups. Experience has been about a "pick 'em". All brands have had 150K-200K miles without major problems......and they get used.

                              I've moved from the 8-foot box to the 6.5 footer, and still find certain times when I could use the longer box. But I like a "club cab" cabin with occassional seating or storage.......and the long wheel base to support the long box was just too unwieldy at times......particularly in the city, or when my girls were driving it.

                              I'd be interested in any experience with the full-size Japanese trucks. Particularly in snow, cold, woods, and fields.

                              GV

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