Ford joins the club

Having commented on a number of occasions about General Motors’ woes, and striving to be an Equal Opportunity PunditTM, it’s only fair to give credit where credit is due. Ford this week showed that it can compete with the best of them in terms of losing money,
posting a loss
on its North American operations of $1.2 billion for the third quarter and $2.4 billion over the last 15 months. I’m not sure what advice to give Ford. But here’s what I think we might expect from U.S. policy makers.

Source: New York Times, Oct 21
ford_share.gif

Ford and GM face a long-term battle with high costs and declining market share. But the immediate problem has been a precipitous shift in consumer’s vehicle preferences.

Should you care? Ford is expected to begin plant closings and layoffs in January. Autos are less important in the American economy than they used to be, but are still huge, and many workers beyond those employed at Ford and GM will feel the effects. The recent problems of Delphi, the largest U.S. auto parts supplier, are just one of many stories we can expect to hear about in the months ahead.

If there turns out to be serious blood on the floor, don’t expect Congress to stand idly by. There may be pressure to protect the automakers from competition by imports, but that probably won’t get very far. At least I would hope that most legislators understand what an economic disaster it would be to re-open the trade wars of the 1930’s.

But what about federal handouts to the poor automakers? That’s another story. Will a Senate that votes 82-15 to spend a quarter billion on a bridge connecting
Ketchikan with Gravina
fail to pony up to save jobs in Detroit and Cleveland? The temptation to substitute Washington red ink for that of the Big Three could get pretty strong.

The other Washington player that might want a place at this table would be Alan Greenspan. But the Fed has little responsibility for the problems faced by GM and Ford, you say? True, but an economic recession isn’t going to prove very helpful for Detroit at this juncture. Moreover, the automakers’ woes have an important consequence for the Fed’s current preoccupation, namely, the Fed’s efforts to slow down inflation. The responses by Ford and GM to their problems will exert a significant negative macroeconomic shock, creating slack in labor and affected output markets and lowering costs. Here’s my question for the Fed– if you had a certain target for the fed funds rate (such as 4.50 by January) that made sense in the absence of these problems for two of America’s industrial giants, isn’t it rational to aim for a lower rate in the presence of these problems?

So there you have it. The automakers, which in my opinion should have responded to the shift away from big cars much earlier, are now in a pretty good mess. Congress, which in my opinion shouldn’t respond to that mess, probably will. The Fed, which in my opinion should respond, probably won’t. And my job, as an Equal Opportunity PunditTM, is to kvetch about them all.

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53 thoughts on “Ford joins the club

  1. Economist's View

    The Location of Auto Supplier Plants

    For those interested in the troubles facing the auto industry and the areas of the country that are the most vulnerable, here’s a map from the Chicago Fed Blog (where the issue is discussed further) showing the location of auto

  2. Rick

    What’s good with Ford: 1) The new Mustang and Fusion 2) The Escpe hybrid 3) Slightly lower healthcare and legacy costs than GM 4) Smaller and easier company to focus than GM (Ford family majority voting rights makes direction setting easier) 5) Ford Motor Credit does an outstanding job 6) Cash position is still reasonably strong 7) Strong dealer body capable of large sales volumes quickly when products get hot (Toyotas sales rise would be even more dramatic if it had the dealer capabilities that GM and Ford do) What’s bad with Ford: 1) Crippling healthcare and legacy costs remain 2) Visteon bailout costs 3) Quality issues, both real and perceived, are a constant 4) Mercury has zero brand identity 5) Lincoln has identity but is in crisis with dreadfully aged products that compete against truly superior world class competitors 6) Constant rumors that CEO Bill Ford is shopping around for a more competent replacement (making it hard to rally for a cause) 7) Lack of a clear compelling direction for future identity. (the only news we ever hear is about downsizing)

  3. Ken Houghton

    There have been two choices with CAFE standards since the late 1990s: (1) raise them and reduce the SUV exemption or (2) leave them where they were and assume that automakers would understand and adjust to their market.
    The assumption that market forces would cause appropriate adjustments battled against a management that still treated itself as battling for market share in an oligopoly of equals (which is what makes Rick’s all-too-accurate points 4 and 5 the more ludicrous).
    You can outsource the building, but not the innovation. That GM and F management took their motivation from government inaction and not their customers is a disappointment. That those managers will not suffer their deeds is why economists who preach the market as arbiter find their names taken in vain.

  4. Movie Guy

    Jim — “The automakers, which in my opinion should have responded to the shift away from big cars much earlier, are now in a pretty good mess.”
    Vehicle size isn’t necessarily the issue. Fuel economy and emissions are the issues.
    I don’t have any problem with auto manufacturers which build midsize and supposed large cars that deliver good fuel economy while minimizing emissions. Same for Crossovers, SUVs, pickups, vans, and all other vehicles.
    I expect, though, that even if manufacturers build SUVS, crossovers, pickup trucks, and vans which deliver real world 35 mpg plus fuel economy, we will still hear the complaints about large vehicles or types of vehicles. Simply because much of the argument is about types, size and perception, not the purposes or fuel efficiency of the vehicles.
    If a Chevy Tahoe or a Ford Explorer was providing real world 35-50 mpg fuel efficiency, we would still hear complaints. “Oooh, it’s an SUV.”
    Manufacturers can downsize powerplants and change rear gearing in many of the larger platforms and provide much better fuel economy. Many of those options are presently available to consumers. V6 instead of V8, and 4cyl instead of V6. And more options are on the way.
    Kindly tell me why a little car like a Honda model should be providing 255 or greater horsepower if fuel efficiency is the hot subject among auto manufacturers and consumers? They are selling the high horsepower small cars because the market is there, not because they are totally focused on being Mr. Fuel Efficient.
    Similarly, Asian manufacturers are ramping up efforts to build new large vehicles, including a proposed V8 by Honda.
    For large or small vehicles, fuel efficiency and emissions are the issues.

  5. Hal

    If gas prices were to come back down to the $2/gallon range, consumer tastes might flip right back to where they were and those SUVs could start flying off the shelves. It’s not impossible, with gasoline futures in the $1.50s today – that should point to a retail price close to $2.00.

  6. Byomtov

    For large or small vehicles, fuel efficiency and emissions are the issues.
    They are some of the issues. Another is quality. The fact is that GM and Ford are perceived as making a poor product. I just got out the 2005 Consumer Reports Auto issue. Among other features they list their choice of the best car in each of ten categories. The Ford Focus wins its category, the other nine winners are Japanese.
    Let’s not ignore this simple fact which, like so many others, suggests that these companies’ problems stem heavily from mismanagement.

  7. calmo

    great kvetching. I’ll be surprised if Congress doesn’t come to the rescue of Ford and GM. National pride is not easily discarded, no matter how lousy the depreciation is on those Lincolns.

  8. M1EK

    “If a Chevy Tahoe or a Ford Explorer was providing real world 35-50 mpg fuel efficiency, we would still hear complaints. “Oooh, it’s an SUV.””
    Yes, because those vehicles still pollute more than cars, and are still an incredible safety hazard for their own occupants and other road users.
    If a station wagon (required to meet all car standards) got 35-50mpg, it’d be flying off the shelves and people would be applauding it.

  9. max

    If government raises CAFE standards, less fuel is consumed. If less fuel is consumed, government collects less fuel taxes. Since directly raising taxes is politically unpopular, government does not raise CAFE standards.
    That leaves automakers to adjust to the market.

  10. Movie Guy

    MG — “If a Chevy Tahoe or a Ford Explorer was providing real world 35-50 mpg fuel efficiency, we would still hear complaints. “Oooh, it’s an SUV.””
    M1EK — “Yes, because those vehicles still pollute more than cars, and are still an incredible safety hazard for their own occupants and other road users.”
    The vehicle accident statistics are worth noting. While I can make a layman’s argument over the problems of larger vehicles creating more significant hazards for other vehicles and pedestrians, the accident statistics do not generally support such claims. The rollover rate is higher, but not the number of vehicles rolled over. Similarly, projectiles in an SUV create serious risks. But when the issue comes down to actual accidents, the statistics do not show that large SUVs are involved in most accidents. In fact, as a class of vehicle types, the large SUVs are not involved in most accidents, representing only 2.2% of vehicles involved in accidents in 2004.
    Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
    http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/
    Vehicles Involved in Fatal Crashes by Body Type – 2004 statistics
    http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/finalreport.cfm?title=Vehicles&stateid=0&year=2004&title2=All_Vehicles
    Light Trucks – Large Utility
    1,284 vehicles of 58,414 total vehicles
    2.2 percent
    —-
    Traffic Safety Facts 2003
    http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-30/NCSA/TSFAnn/TSF2003F.pdf
    Table 33, page 71
    Two-Vehicle Crashes by Vehicle Type and Crash Severity
    Table 36, page 79
    Vehicles Involved in Fatal Crashes by Body Type
    Light Trucks – Large Utility
    1,080 vehicles of 58,512 total vehicles
    1.8 percent
    Table 37, page 80
    Vehicles Involved in Crashes by Vehicle Type, Rollover Occurrence, and Crash Severity
    Table 74, page 125
    Occupants Involved in Fatal Crashes and Occupant Fatalities, by Vehicle Body Type
    Light Tucks – Large Utility
    Occupants involved – 2,370
    – Percentage – 2.5%
    Occupants Killed – 602
    – Percentage – 1.6%
    Table 75, page 126
    Passenger Car Occupants Involved in Fatal Crashes and Occupants Killed, by Car Wheelbase Size
    Table 97, page 148
    Pedestrians Killed or Injured in Single-Vehicle Crashes, by Vehicle Type and Initial Point of Impact
    Pedestrians Killed:
    Passenger Car – 1,916
    Light Truck – 1,688
    Pedestrians Injured:
    Passenger Car – 43,000
    Light Truck – 22,000

  11. M1EK

    “While I can make a layman’s argument over the problems of larger vehicles creating more significant hazards for other vehicles and pedestrians, the accident statistics do not generally support such claims.”
    You’re out of date.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/10/07/suv.pedestrians.reut/
    SUVs are a negative-sum game. Not only do they not make things any safer for their own passengers (compared to large sedans), they make things considerably less safe for other road users, including sedan passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

  12. Movie Guy

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) FARS data that I referenced and provided 2004 and 2003 excerpts from is “out of date”??
    FARS data is current and comprehensive.
    FARS data is the primary U.S. source for almost all quality accident research and reporting, including the editorial that CNN/Reuters cited in the link that you posted.
    Similarly, the NHTSA FARS data is also cited by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute.
    There is nothing wrong with the data.
    The editorial written by Ciaran Simms and Desmond O’Neill of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland which you cited does have some problems of its own. The editorial was also published in the British Medical Journal, by the way.
    While the basic subjects of vehicle frontal areas and known research about “wrap and carry” which Simms and O’Neill addressed is old news, their contentions in other areas were less well received.
    Simms and O’Neill “claim that an increase in European sales of 4x4s / SUVs poses a growing threat to pedestrians. Yet pedestrian deaths in the UK fell from 1,038 in 1995 to 671 last year, a drop of 35 per cent. In the same period, sales of 4x4s / SUVs more than doubled from 80,427 to 179,439 units.”
    “In calling for independent crash tests, researchers seem to have overlooked tests by the independent safety body EuroNCAP. Pedestrian protection measures are part of their robust test procedure for new cars. Scores vary from model to model. The Honda CR-V for example is one of few to have scored three stars, a far better result than achieved by many smaller models.”
    “The British Medical Journal article also ignores investment made by car makers in active safety systems. These are designed to prevent accidents happening, rather than mitigating the effect of a crash. For example, in a voluntary move, manufacturers now fit ABS (anti-lock) brakes to all new volume production cars. Electronic stability and traction control systems are also helping more drivers of SUVs and other vehicles to avoid loss of control, keeping cars and pedestrians where they belong apart.”
    Similarly, the FARS data indicates clearly that the number of fatal accidents involving large SUVs in single or multiple vehicle accidents is quite small (2.2%) in comparison to all vehicle accidents. Moreover, the number of pedestrians injured or killed from accidents involving all light trucks (of which large SUVs only represent a portion) is less than is the case with cars. Yet, light truck and van sales represent roughly 40% of the vehicle sales in the USA according to the editorial you cited.
    The greatest number of injuries to pedestrians by an almost 2 to 1 margin is caused by cars, not pickup trucks, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, large SUVs, vans, service utiltiy trucks, or any other vehicles classified as light trucks. Similarly, more deaths of pedestrians are caused by cars. And there is a new concern regarding potential accidents with pedestrians from hybrid vehicles during the periods such vehicles are operating on their electic motors – many pedestrians can not hear them, including those pedestrians who have physical disabilities such as being blind, deaf, or slow movement difficulties.
    http://www.galwayindependent.com/motoring/5182.html
    http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/
    http://www.safercar.gov/
    http://www.safercar.gov/pages/ResourcesLinksDCR.htm
    http://money.cnn.com/2004/07/19/pf/autos/safe_cars/index.htm

  13. M1EK

    “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) FARS data that I referenced and provided 2004 and 2003 excerpts from is “out of date”??”
    The conclusion that nobody’s shown that SUVs are less safe for other road users is out of date. Said studies are coming out, right now, and they match the common-sense expectation I provided you the link; go read it.
    As usual, you’re being willfully misleading by conflating the NUMBER of accidents caused by cars vs. SUVs with the PROPORTIONAL contribution of each and the SEVERITY of the injuries each causes.
    Also, I’m in DC on business, and the rental car is a Cobalt. (The other guy is driving). IT SUCKS. The driver has a 2-generations-old Civic at home and says that car is considerably better than this piece of crap.

  14. Rick

    I thought we were discussing Ford. Check out http://www.autoextremist.com He does a weekly commentary on Wednesdays regarding current events in the auto industry. This weeks edition takes Ford leadership to task and makes some valid points.

  15. Movie Guy

    M1EK — “As usual, you’re being willfully misleading by conflating the NUMBER of accidents caused by cars vs. SUVs with the PROPORTIONAL contribution of each and the SEVERITY of the injuries each causes.”
    Anyone who reads my second post should realize that M1EK’s statement is without foundation. It’s simply not true.
    As I recall, more light trucks of all types, including large SUVs, are sold in the U.S. than cars. Yet, car impacts kill and injure more pedestrians than all light trucks, regardless of type.
    I presented factual information which anyone can verify. I provided the url links. Denying that the facts are what they are doesn’t change the accident data. Large SUVs are not involved in a high percentage of accident fatalities. The figure is 2.2%. Period.
    If one bothers to read the NHSTA FARS data (and there is plenty of it), and eliminates large SUV fatalities due to rollovers and not wearing seatbelts, the number of large SUV related fatalities decline substantially.
    The conclusion that nobody’s shown that SUVs are less safe for other road users is out of date. Said studies are coming out, right now, and they match the common-sense expectation I provided you the link; go read it.
    M1Ek,kindly name the new studies. Put up the url links or names the authors and organizations involved in such studies.
    I read the little editorial in the CNN article. Nothing new there. Old news. Just more of ‘the sky is falling’ commentray from two members of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. And their calls for alarm are not supported by accident information in the UK. Very amateur presentation in that respect.
    For those who understand automotive engineering, it may make little sense to put pointed nosecaps on the front of pickup trucks, SUVs, and similar light trucks. Yes, it sounds good to support “wrap and carry” pedestrian impacts and reduce drag coefficients, but you create worse problems for vehicle-to-vehicle impacts with a pointed nose. Concentrating the energy of the impact is not a good answer. The flatter noses of trucks are less likely to penetrate the interior cages of automobiles because the impact energy is dispersed across a larger cross section. Yet, there are some manufacturers which are shifting to more slanted noses.
    The growing crop of crossover vehicles mimic the car nosecaps, benefitting from lower drag coefficients and “wrap and carry” considerations. The light truck approach appears to be more concentrated on slightly more nose angling and higher windshield rake.
    Bumper heights of cars and trucks is an area that deserves more attention.

  16. M1EK

    “Anyone who reads my second post should realize that M1EK’s statement is without foundation. It’s simply not true.
    As I recall, more light trucks of all types, including large SUVs, are sold in the U.S. than cars. Yet, car impacts kill and injure more pedestrians than all light trucks, regardless of type.”
    Since you’ve thrown down the gauntlet, you’re lying. The proportion of new vehicle sales DID reach about 50% the last year or two; but this does not mean that anywhere near half the CURRENT VEHICLE FLEET is light trucks.
    And “light trucks” includes minivans, too, which are usually more favorable to pedestrians and other vehicles in crashes.
    You’re a sad, sad, flack.

  17. Rick

    What happened to the Ford discussion. You know F.O.R.D.= Found On Road Dead.
    F.O.R.D.= Fix Or Repair Daily.
    What do you guys think about Bill Ford soliciting the employees for ideas on how to turn around the company? Is that a better strategy than articulating a clear plan with coonviction that’s generated from the top?

  18. Movie Guy

    MG — “As I recall, more light trucks of all types, including large SUVs, are sold in the U.S. than cars. Yet, car impacts kill and injure more pedestrians than all light trucks, regardless of type.”
    Let me expand on this, so that my points are clear to most readers who have checked out the NHSTA FARS links I provided previously.
    Light truck sales (including SUVs) of have been increasing significantly for a while. We added over 3 million additional light trucks to our national vehicle registration from 2002 to 2003, as an example. Supposedly, SUVs sales alone represented something on the order of 40% of vehicle sales in 2004. Not sure about the specific number or percentage, but that is what has been reported in some news articles. I also believe the 2003 or 2004 ratio of registered vehicles was approximately 1.36 million cars to .85-.92 million trucks, depending on the source of the data. Of course, registrations are duplicated each year with multiple sales of the same vehicles, so there so distortion as pertains to vehicles in actual use.
    With the increasing sales of SUVs and light trucks in general, I would have thought that a higher percentage of pedestrian collisions with trucks would be represented in the NHSTA FAR data, but injury collisions show a wide difference between car collision incidents and light truck incidents. In fact, passenger cars injured almost twice as many pedestrians as did light trucks. Fatalities, of course, represent a different story because of the “wrap and carry” design of the noses of most cars. In other words, it’s likely that more pedestrians survived some collisions with cars. Not conclusive proof, but very likely in my judgment. And that’s good.
    But the problem is that far more pedestrian injuries are being caused by cars than light trucks. Of 65,000 pedestrian injuries, 43,000 were caused by cars. This represents a larger percentage spread than the registration ratio between cars and light trucks. Similarly, the number of injuries caused by frontal collisions with cars is far greater than the number of such collisions with trucks, by an even wider margin – closer to 3 to 1.
    Here’s some of the available HNTSA FARS data:
    Pedestrians Killed in Single-Vehicle Crashes, by Vehicle Type:
    Passenger Car – 1,916
    Light Truck – 1,688
    Passenger Car, frontal crash – 1,728
    Light Truck, frontal crash – 1,517
    Pedestrians Injured in Single-Vehicle Crashes, by Vehicle Type:
    Passenger Car – 43,000
    Light Truck – 22,000
    Passenger Car, frontal crash – 32,000
    Light Truck, frontal crash – 13,000

  19. Movie Guy

    Here’s some more information that offers some factual insight into the accident and injury comparisons between passenger cars and light trucks, including a further breakdown by type light truck. Also some additional information which should be taken into account regarding all accident fatalities and injuries.
    For clarification: Light Trucks, under NHTSA classification, include: Compact Utility, Large Utility, Utility Station Wagon, Utility -Unknown Body Type, Minivan, Large Van, Step Van, Other Van Type, Unknown Van Type, Compact Pickup, Standard Pickup, Pickup with Camper, Unknown Pickup Style Truck, and Cab Chassis Based Light Truck. ** Medium, Heavy Pickups are classified as large trucks.
    Per 2003 NHTSA FARS data:
    Fatality Rate per 100,000 Registered Light Trucks – 14.53
    Injury Rate per 100,000 Registered Light Trucks – 1,038
    Light Truck Fatality Rate per 100 Million VMT – 1.18
    Light Truck Injury Rate per 100 Million VMT – 85
    Fatality Rate per 100,000 Registered Passenger Cars – 14.85
    Injury Rate per 100,000 Registered Passenger Cars – 1,340
    Passenger Car Fatality Rate per 100 Million VMT – 1.21
    Passenger Car Injury Rate per 100 Million VMT – 109

    “Regardless of crash severity, the majority of vehicles in single- and two-vehicle crashes
    were going straight prior to the crash. The next most common vehicle maneuver differed
    by crash severity: negotiating a curve for fatal crashes, turning left for injury crashes, and
    stopped in traffic lane for property-damage-only crashes.”
    Vehicles Involved in Crashes by Vehicle Type and Crash Severity:
    Vehicles Involved in Fatal Crashes by Body Type:
    Passenger Cars – 26,169 vehicles, 44.7% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes
    Compact Utility (SUV) trucks – 5,677 vehicles, 9.7% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes
    Large Utility (SUV) trucks – 1,080 vehicles, 1.8% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes
    Utility Station Wagons – 449 vehicles, 0.8% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes
    Minivans – 2,505 vehicles, 4.3% pf all vehicles involved in fatal crashes
    Large Vans – 1,102 vehicles, 1.9% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes
    Compact Pickups – 3,667 vehicles, 6.3% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes
    Standard Pickups – 7,252 vehicles, 12.4% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes

    Other noteworthy Statistics:
    Drivers of Passenger Cars and Light Trucks in Crashes by Crash Severity and Restraint Use:
    – Drivers in Fatal Crashes – Restraint Not Used: 15,345 fatalities, 32.0% of total fatalities
    – Drivers in Fatal Crashes – Restraint Use Unknown: 4,248 fatalities, 8.9% of total fatalities
    – Drivers in Injury Crashes – Restraint Not Used: 180,000 injuries, 5.4% of total injuries
    – Drivers in Injury Crashes – Restraint Use Unknown: 332,000 injuries, 9.9% of total injuries
    Occupants of Passenger Cars and Light Trucks Killed and Injured, and Restraint Use:
    – Occupants Killed – Restraint Not Used: 16,594 fatalities, 52.0% of total occupant fatalities
    – Occupants Killed – Restraint Use Unknown: 2,523 fatalities, 7.9% of total occupant fatalities
    – Occupants Injured – Restraint Not Used: 248,000 injuries, 9.4% of total occupants
    – Occupants Injured – Restraint Use Unknown: 193,000 injuries, 7.3% of total occupants
    Other info:
    More than 6.3 million police-reported motor vehicle crashes occurred in the United States
    in 2003. Almost one-third of these crashes resulted in an injury, with less than 1 percent of total crashes (38,252) resulting in a death.
    – Midnight to 3 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays proved to be the deadliest 3-hour periods
    throughout 2003, with 1,228 and 1,208 fatal crashes, respectively.
    – Fifty-seven percent of fatal crashes involved only one vehicle, compared to 30 percent of
    injury crashes and 31 percent of property-damage-only crashes.
    – More than half of fatal crashes occurred on roads with posted speed limits of 55 mph or
    more, while only 25 percent of property-damage-only crashes occurred on these roads.
    – Collision with another motor vehicle in transport was the most common first harmful event
    for fatal, injury, and property-damage-only crashes. Collisions with fixed objects and
    noncollisions accounted for only 19 percent of all crashes, but they accounted for 44 percent of fatal crashes.
    – Forty percent of fatal crashes involved alcohol. For fatal crashes occurring from midnight to 3 a.m., 77 percent involved alcohol.

  20. Movie Guy

    Rick — “What happened to the Ford discussion.”
    “What do you guys think about Bill Ford soliciting the employees for ideas on how to turn around the company? Is that a better strategy than articulating a clear plan with coonviction that’s generated from the top?”
    I agree with Bill’s move on soliciting input from the floor. He might find some good ideas throughout his company. I expect that he is sending a message to everyone. Something like: “If we’re going to survive and do well, it will take a team effort. You are my team, so let’s talk.” And Ford is more open to that philosophy than many auto manufacturers.
    He’s working on the third or fourth reorganization in recent years. It might be time to get some floor input, as he is going to close plants.
    I haven’t understood all of Ford’s moves in recent years. A few of the vehicle redesigns have worked very well, and others made little sense to me. I don’t understand why a few vehicles were put in the pipeline. Some of those were cost losers from the start.
    On the positive side, Ford does offer a few decent vehicles from a price point perspective. And the small global vehicle entries aren’t bad.
    I want to see how the various executive moves play out. Two of them surprised me.
    I believe that Ford needs to add one or two vehicles to its existing fleet. Of course, this type of thinking is not supported by most industry observers or consultants. And they have a find a way to make Mercury more visible or simply cut it loose.
    I hope that they turn it around.

  21. Movie Guy

    Rick,
    What about you? How would turn Ford around?
    Would you keep Volvo? Would you build a minicooper type product? And would you lower the sides of the beds of the pickup trucks?

  22. Rick

    I like Volvo. They hold a brand identity that is all their own. Jaguar and Ford are an odd mix, and certainly hasn’t helped Lincoln. My concern with CEO Bill Ford is that while it’s nice to solicit employee input on productivity gains, and specific projects, I think the company has a critical need for a well defined overarching direction. “Here’s what we stand for.” and “Here’s what we’re going to accomplish.” Then ask employees for their best action plans to help get there. All we ever get from Bill is downsizing or generic remarks about environmentalism and innovation. And you’re correct, the pickup bed height is ridiculous unless you’re about seven feet tall.

  23. Movie Guy

    Rick,
    Yes, Volvo is a good product. Where do park it if you’re Ford? At ford dealers or Mercury? Stand alone is not enough.
    I thought that GM would purchase Volvo after the GMC-White-Volvo truck relationship. No such luck.

  24. Movie Guy

    “…I think the company has a critical need for a well defined overarching direction.”
    I believe that Ford understands that. As Clay Ford said: The company needs “a dramatically different business structure,” Ford Chief Executive William Clay Ford Jr. said in a call with analysts.
    I’m encouraged by some of the positive moves that Ford is undertaking: “Ford is actively engaged in the development of four promising future alternatives to todays gasoline engines including, clean diesels, gasoline-electric hybrids, hydrogen internal combustion engines (H2ICE) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCV).”
    “The engineers who work on the Focus FCV work hand in hand with those developing our gasoline hybrids,” said Mary Ann Wright, director of Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid Programs for Ford Motor Company. “The knowledge we gain by engineering these cars not only benefits our expertise in innovative fuel cell propulsion technology, it also will help us deliver even better gasoline hybrids in the near term.”
    “Ford is actively engaged in the development of four promising future alternatives to todays gasoline engines including, clean diesels, gasoline-electric hybrids, hydrogen internal combustion engines (H2ICE) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCV).”
    “The Ford Focus FCV uses a fuel cell powertrain supplied by Ballard Power Systems, the world leader in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology. The FCV is hybridized with the addition of a nickel metalhydride battery pack and a brake-by-wire electro-hydraulic series regenerative braking system.”
    FORD DELIVERS MORE HYDROGEN FOCUS FUEL CELL VEHICLES TO CALIFORNIA
    24-October-2005
    http://www.fuelcellsworks.com/Supppage3777.html

  25. Movie Guy

    I believe that Ford will need to be careful as it moves forward on its hybrid plus vehicle programs.
    Ford certainly doesn’t want to come under fire from Bluewater Network again, as it did in 2003. As importantly, Ford must find ways to hold down hybrid technology component costs and marry such to gasoline powerplants that offer good fuel economy. So, Ford’s task is to avoid some of the other pitfalls other manufacturers are encountering, both in the news media and with customers.
    Can Ford do it? Yes, but the task is not easy. Perhaps Ford will benefit from some of the delays in introducing more hybrid plus vehicles. Ford may determine ways to avoid some of the problems already noted by key executives of some manufacturers, and consumers concerned about costs and fuel economy.
    Ford Wants to Develop its Own Hybrid Technology and Suppliers
    10-26-2005
    http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/News/articleId=107777
    Hybrid Cars Pose Dangers To First Responders
    October 10, 2005
    http://www.nbc4.com/news/5078972/detail.html
    Ad Attacks Toyota’s Environmental Policies
    Company’s lobbying and litigation run contrary to carefully cultivated “green” image
    OCTOBER 24, 2005
    Common Dreams Newswire
    http://www.commondreams.org/news2005/1024-09.htm
    Environmental group targets Toyota in new ad
    October 24, 2005
    http://www.detnews.com/2005/autosinsider/0510/25/toyo-359513.htm
    “Bluewater Network took on Ford Motor Co. in 2003 after the automaker reneged on a promise to increase the fuel economy of its vehicles by 25 percent.”
    Tell Toyota to Walk the Talk
    http://www.bluewaternetwork.org/telltoyota/
    New York Times article – hybrid test
    http://www.bluewaternetwork.org/news_stories/gw/gw_7-31-05_nythybrid.pdf
    Toyota to rethink on Hybrid Plus models (‘big electrical appliance’)
    August 8, 2005
    http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2005/08/07/1123353208622.html?oneclick=true

  26. Movie Guy

    M1EK — “The conclusion that nobody’s shown that SUVs are less safe for other road users is out of date. Said studies are coming out, right now…”
    As I requested previously, M1EK, kindly name the new studies. Put up the url links or names the authors and organizations involved in such studies.
    Any luck identifying ANY of the new studies you say that you are aware of, or who is supposedly conducting or preparing the documentation?
    If such studies exist in draft or final form, I would like to track them and call the authors.

  27. Movie Guy

    The largest percentage of SUV related fatalities are associated with the compact SUVs, not the large SUVS or largest SUVS
    The largest SUVs, like a Chevy Suburban or GMC Yukon XL, (and perhaps Tahoe and Yukon based on cubic interior dimensions) are classified as Utility Station Wagons.
    The NHSTA FARS data for 2004 shows that Utility Station Wagon vehicles were involved in 463 crashes resulting in fatalities, and that this class of vehicles was involved in 0.8 percent of all fatal crashes by vehicle type.
    The 2003 FARS data for Utility Station Wagon vehicles indicates 449 vehicles were involved, and this represents 0.8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatalities.
    If any new SUV safety studies are forthcoming, perhaps the primary focus will be on fatalities and injuries associated with Compact Utility (SUV) trucks. This small SUV classification involved 5,677 vehicles, and 9.7 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 2003 according to NHSTA FARS data; 6,021 vehicles and 10.3 percent in 2004.
    Added together, the large and largest SUVs (by NHSTA classfication) represented 1,529 vehicles and 2.6 percent in 2003, and 1,747 vehicles and 3.0 percent in 2004 of all vehicle fatalities.
    Passenger cars, meanwhile, represented 26,169 vehicles and 44.7 percent in 2003, and 25,507 vehicles and 43.7 percent in 2004 of all vehicle fatalities.
    Perhaps the sales growth in SUVs accounts for some of the upward incidents, and perhaps not. But SUV sales have been strong since the mid 90s, capturing a large market share of all vehicle sales.
    Size Classification Source:
    http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/manual_group.cfm?year=2004&datasource=fars2004&tbl=ibody&istatenum=0&groupid=B
    Definitions:
    “Utility station wagon (includes suburban limousines, Suburban, Travellall, Grand Wagoneer)”
    “Large utility (includes Jeep Cherokee [83 and before], Ramcharger, Trailduster, Bronco-fullsize ..)”
    “Compact utility (Jeep CJ-2-CJ-7, Scrambler, Golden Eagle, Renegade, Laredo, Wrangler, …..)”

  28. Movie Guy

    Attacking Ford but defending Toyota
    M1EK — October 20, 2005 06:51 AM — “Toyota sells large SUVs but doesn’t try to get them special regulatory help, since they also sell small cars. Toyota, while selling to those who want large SUVs, isn’t trying to force the market the wrong way… They aren’t out there torpedoing CAFE reforms like GM and Ford are.”
    Really?
    Apparently you aren’t aware of the following:
    OCTOBER 24, 2005
    SAN FRANCISCO – “Bluewater Network–a division of Friends of the Earth, today initiated an advertisement campaign critical of Toyota’s environmental policies.”
    The ad rebukes Toyota for suing to overturn California’s new regulations to reduce smog and global warming pollution from vehicles, opposing efforts in Congress to significantly raise the federal CAFE fuel mileage standards, and for having worse average fuel mileage in 2005 than in 1990.
    “Danielle Fugere, Director of Climate Change at Bluewater Network, said, “Toyota is poised to lead the auto industry on cutting foreign oil dependence, smog, and global warming pollution. Instead, they’re fighting against significantly increasing U.S. fuel mileage standards and suing to stop the states from cutting emissions.” Fugere continued, “How can they claim to be an environmental leader while undermining the very laws that would protect the planet? Toyota needs to figure out what they stand for, because they can’t have it both ways.””
    http://www.commondreams.org/news2005/1024-09.htm

  29. Movie Guy

    M1EK“As usual, whenever Movie Guy opens his mouth about Toyota, you can be assured that he’s misrepresenting reality.”
    Anyone who has any honest concerns over the issue of “misrepresenting reality” should address such matters to the Mr. Shigeyuki Hori – Toyota chief engineer for product planning, Bluewater Network, BusinessWeek, Associated Press, NYTimes, and those individuals who have tested and reported on Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid and Lexus RX400h. The analysis and results speak for themselves.
    Here is what the Toyota chief engineer for product planning had to say in August 2005:
    Toyota to rethink on Hybrid Plus models (‘big electrical appliance’)
    August 8, 2005
    http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2005/08/07/1123353208622.html?oneclick=true
    FULL TEXT:
    Toyota and its hybrid-powered Prius have grabbed the high ground in the battle for the hearts and minds of environmentally-aware motorists, but all is not well in the model’s program.
    Customers are not willing to pay dearly for what Toyota chief engineer for product planning, Shigeyuki Hori describes as a “big electric appliance”.
    In short, hybrid versions of many models will just be too expensive, he said.
    The sophisticated-looking Prius has been earning rave reviews around the world for its economy and is often cited as the way forward for car design.
    There is no doubt Toyota leads the world in hybrid design and sales, and observers believed that all Toyota needed to do to stay ahead was to offer hybrid systems in all of its models, alongside normal petrol and diesel engines.
    But when Toyota started to install hybrid petrol-electric drive trains in other models, the gloss soon came off, according to Mr Hori.
    “The hybrid versions of the Harrier [Highlander hybrid] and Kluger [Lexus RX400h] sports utility vehicles in the domestic market have not worked well,” Mr Hori said recently.
    He says lack of sales success could be because the hybrid system adds 20 per cent or more to the retail price of the two models, which were launched in March.
    The worrying aspect for Toyota is that it is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on tooling to make a hybrid version of the next Camry.
    Mr Hori said it would be difficult to reduce the cost differential if Toyota continued to make the normal engines and hybrid power units available in the same bodies.
    “In an ordinary car you need an engine and transmission. In a hybrid, you also need an electric motor and batteries plus you need a control system for the engine and the motor.”
    The control system was so complex, the hybrid needed five times the computing power of a normal car. “The price is driven up because you are buying a big electric appliance,” Mr Hori said. “It is very difficult to bring down the price premium from between 20 and 40 per cent.”
    Mr Hori said work would continue to try making the hybrid system cheaper so it could be used in small vehicles, but he was not confident.
    “It’s important the price is reasonable and there is value for the price you pay,” he said through an interpreter.
    “The hybrid price can be suppressed a bit, but ? you just have an ordinary car with this big thing added on.”
    The answer was to make hybrid cars that had no normal equivalent, although that would saddle the company with extra development costs.
    “It’s better to come up with a completely new model.”

  30. Movie Guy

    Aside from effective cost management of hybrid technologies, here are some of the vehicle product mistakes that Ford and other automobile manufacturers can not afford to make as they initiate or expand their hybrid plus vehicle lines:
    SPECIAL REPORT: A LOW-COST ENERGY FUTURE
    BusinessWeek
    SEPTEMBER 20, 2005
    http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/sep2005/tc20050920_8040_tc_217.htm
    “Up until…this year, hybrids were pretty much used for fuel savings,” says Walter McManus, the director of the University of Michigan’s Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation. Many performance hybrids have energy savings of less than 10% of the standard cars’ mileage. “With cars like the [Honda] Accord Hybrid, and the Lexus, those vehicles have six-cylinder engines” and guzzle a good share of gas, he says, adding, “the electric motor is pretty much just for a power boost.”
    BEHIND THE WHEEL/2006 Lexus RX400h; The Hybrid Emperor’s New Clothes
    By JEFF SABATINI
    New York Times
    July 31, 2005
    http://www.bluewaternetwork.org/news_stories/gw/gw_7-31-05_nythybrid.pdf
    “One question lingers after driving the 2006 Lexus RX400h: How did it come to this, that Toyota is now selling a hybrid gas-electric vehicle with no tangible fuel economy benefits?”
    “In my test-driving, the Lexus hybrid, which is based on the gasoline-only RX 330, did not achieve better mileage than the 2005 RX330 that I drove for comparison.”
    “My hybrid tester’s window sticker did boast a federal mileage rating of 31 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on the highway, compared with just 18 and 24 for the RX without the hybrid drivetrain. But the government’s testing procedure has a habit — one that seems to be exaggerated with hybrids — of rendering fuel economy numbers as relevant to the real world as national energy policies have been to actually reducing dependence on foreign oil.”
    “Speaking of which, isn’t that what hybrids are all about: conservation, improved fuel economy, weaning the nation off its oil habit? Perhaps not any longer.”
    “The hybrid version of the Lexus sport utility wagon follows in the tracks of the 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid by offering more horsepower than the conventional version of the same vehicle, a markedly different approach than that of economy-focused hybrids like Toyota’s own Prius or Honda’s Civic Hybrid. In this case we’re talking 268 horsepower for the RX400h, versus 230 for the gasoline-only RX330.”
    More Thirsty Than You’d Think
    By JAMES G. COBB
    New York Times
    July 31, 2005
    http://www.bluewaternetwork.org/news_stories/gw/gw_7-31-05_nytmorethirsty.pdf
    “The all-wheel-drive version of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid uses a powertrain almost identical to the one in the Lexus RX 400h, and both vehicles carry fuel economy ratings of 31 miles per gallon in town and 27 on the highway. But try as I might, and I did try hard, I could not budge the Highlander Hybrid above 25 m.p.g. on a recent road test in eastern Connecticut.”
    “I have a reputation as an economy driver – four decades ago, I drove in the Mobil Economy Runs, on teams that competed to use the least gasoline – and I usually get better mileage in any car than anyone I know. I calculated my mileage in the Highlander Hybrid as 23 m.p.g. (although the car’s computer said it was 25).”
    “I sought to stay in the fuel-conserving electric mode and tried not to take advantage of the car’s quick acceleration. But the algorithm that switches the gas engine on and off seemed to resist driving techniques intended to use the least fuel; for instance, even slight pressure on the accelerator brings the gasoline engine online, driving down the mileage. While the power delivery was very smooth, the onset of the V-6 engine results in a quiver and some rather un-Toyotalike vibrations.”
    BOB KNOLL – Take the Four-Cylinder Instead
    “If you want a hybrid car to save energy, you may be disappointed in the Highlander Hybrid. On a recent 900-plus-mile Los Angeles-Phoenix round trip, my all-wheeldrive test car averaged just 21.6 m.p.g. – on pricey premium fuel. What’s more, my average for one 400-mile leg was just 16 m.p.g.”
    JERRY GARRETT – Unmet Expectations
    “The hybrid premium would be easier to take if the mileage were terrific, but I managed only 23.7 m.p.g. over 300 miles of urban plodding, high-speed cruising and rural driving in upstate New York. This was not much better than the 22 m.p.g. I recorded, over mostly the same roads, in a large nonhybrid sedan, the 2005 Toyota Avalon.”
    “Perhaps my expectations were too high, but Lexus did initially promise a hybrid S.U.V. with the fuel economy of a compact sedan.”
    “To some extent, these new hybrids seem driven less by engineering than by marketing, building on Toyota’s environmental image to sell premium-price cars to those who’ll pay for a green label. “For the typical hybrid buyer, it’s an ideological choice more than than a financial choice,” Gabriel Shenhar, senior auto test engineer for Consumer Reports, said last week. He suggested that if Toyota had truly wanted to make a fuel-efficient seven-passenger wagon, it could have developed a hybrid from the four-cylinder Highlander with real-world mileage of 30 m.p.g.”

  31. M1EK

    As usual, 900 lines of press release in order to avoid the point.
    I’ll state it again, and it won’t take 900 lines to do it:
    “In short: Toyota isn’t an angel. They’re just better than every other car company out there, and about a billion times better than GM.”

  32. Movie Guy

    Movie Guy – “As I recall, more light trucks of all types, including large SUVs, are sold in the U.S. than cars. Yet, car impacts kill and injure more pedestrians than all light trucks, regardless of type.”
    M1EK“Since you’ve thrown down the gauntlet, you’re lying.”
    “The proportion of new vehicle sales DID reach about 50% the last year or two; but this does not mean that anywhere near half the CURRENT VEHICLE FLEET is light trucks.”
    As with many other assertions, let us look at the facts.
    FACTS:
    The accident data posted above is from NHSTA FARS. It speaks for itself.
    Vehicle Marketshare Sales Data:
    Light truck new vehicle sales during the seven year period, 1998-2004, exceeded car sales by 2.5 million vehicles.
    Light truck sales from 1998-2004 account for 51.07 percent of all new vehicle sales. Car sales from 1998-2004 represent 48.93 percent.
    2005 (Year-to-date, as of Sep 05)
    light trucks – 53.7 percent
    passenger cars – 46.3 percent
    2004
    light trucks – 55.36 percent (9.3 million)
    passenger cars – 44.64 percent (7.5 million)
    2003
    light trucks – 54.22 percent (9.0 million)
    passenger cars – 45.78 percent (7.6 million)
    2002
    light trucks – 51.48 percent (8.7 million)
    passenger cars – 48.52 percent (8.2 million)
    2001
    light trucks – 50.88 percent (8.7 million)
    passenger cars – 49.12 percent (8.4 million)
    2000
    light trucks – 49.13 percent (8.5 million)
    passenger cars – 50.87 percent (8.8 million)
    1999
    light trucks – 48.52 percent (8.2 million)
    passenger cars – 51.48 percent (8.7 million)
    1998
    light trucks – 47.74 percent (7.4 million)
    passenger cars – 52.26 percent (8.1 million)
    Vehicle Sales – 1998 to 2004
    light trucks – 51.07 percent (59.8 million)
    cars – 48.93 percent (57.3 million)
    Now, let us turn our attention to vehicle retention and registration data.
    According to the Polk Company via Ward’s Automotive Yearbook, as reflected by the U.S. Department of Commerce data, the 2001 median age for passengers cars was 8.1 years and for trucks the median age was 6.8 years. This was the last year for which median age data was made available in the 2005 Commerce report.
    The U.S Department of Transportation indicates, as reflected by the U.S. Department of Commerce data, that the 2003 U.S. motor vehicles registrations were shown as: cars – 135.7 million registrations; light trucks – 94.9 million registrations.
    Analyzing registration data can be a bit tricky because one has to recognize that multiple registrations can exist for the same vehicle in any given year. Whether more cars than light trucks were sold and then resold however many times in a given year is another question which can not be easily resolved without a deeper analysis.
    If one accepts the questionable notion that registrations represent the total number of vehicles still in use in the U.S., then we are talking about 230.6 million vehicles. As such, 2003 data implies that 58.85 percent of all registered vehicles by the end of the year were cars. That may or may not be the case.
    It is possible, based on the older 2001 median vehicle age data supplied by DOT, that cars older than seven years account for some of the difference in registration proportions. That doesn’t mean, though, that on a mileage usage basis that such additional cars are primary daily transportation movers due simply to mileage runout. In other words, cars more than seven or eight years old may not be driven as many miles per year as newer vehicles.
    It is possible that the ratio of vehicles in active use could be 55 percent cars to 45 percent trucks. Or it may be the case that cars represent 58 percent of vehicle prime movers. Either way, truck sales and registrations do appear to represent a large share of vehicles in the U.S. and such trucks do not represent a proportional share of vehicle accidents or frontal injuries to pedestrians. The national accident statistics bear out that point.
    The high percentage sales of light trucks since 1998 should not be overlooked in such analysis. Based on the most recent seven year period, 1998-2004, more light trucks than cars were sold and registered for highway use by a margin of 51.07 to 48.93 percent.
    Sources:
    Marketshare of trucks and cars
    Sep 04 – Sep 05
    http://www.carlist.com/autonews/2005/autonews_202.html
    Truck vs. Car Sales: 1980-2003
    US Dept. of Commerce; Automotive Industries
    Automotive Digest
    http://www.automotivedigest.com/research/research_results.asp?sigstats_ID=829
    Report – The Road Ahead for the U.S. Auto Industry
    Office of Aerospace and Automotive Industries
    International Trade Administration
    U.S. Department of Commerce
    June 2005
    http://www.ita.doc.gov/td/auto/RA2005.pdf

  33. M1EK

    “The proportion of new vehicle sales DID reach about 50% the last year or two; but this does not mean that anywhere near half the CURRENT VEHICLE FLEET is light trucks.”
    Your links don’t address the current vehicle fleet, unless you assert that there are nearly zero vehicles pre-1997 on the roads.
    And again, another 900 lines to hide from the point:
    Toyota’s not an angel. They’re just a hell of a lot better than GM. Trying to make money while building some green cars >>>>>>>> trying to make money by fighting emissions and mileage regulations on SUVs.

  34. Movie Guy

    M1EK – “Your links don’t address the current vehicle fleet, unless you assert that there are nearly zero vehicles pre-1997 on the roads.”
    Again, another false statement.
    Apparently, you can’t understand what you are reading.
    Aside from correcting your reckless, emotional statement about the marketshare of light trucks sales to car sales, I posted the registration information from 2003. I further stated that based on that information, it is possible that 58 percent of the vehicles on the road are cars. Considering that light truck sales have continued to exceed passenger car sales since 2003, I was being generous.
    I gave the pre-1998 cars credit for representing 7 percent or more of the total vehicle fleet under 2003 registration plus whatever quantity would further fill the gap for 1998-2003 new vehicles which may have been written off due to total damage assessments resulting from accidents, thefts, or fires.
    It is more likely that the ratio is closer to 55 percent cars and 45 percent light trucks.

  35. Movie Guy

    Here’s a brief roundup of interesting auto news:
    Autobytel Inc.’s Automotive Information Center (AIC) division today released
    data from its upcoming research report, the Q3 2005 AIC Quarterly QuickView:
    “The study revealed that decreasing curb weight and increasing horsepower, in addition to other technology advances, have resulted in greater fuel efficiency in SUVs. From 2003 to 2006, average curb weight declined 2.7%, while average horsepower increased 6.7%. Based on these changes, as well as other vehicle factors, SUV fuel efficiency has increased 10.5%, from 19 miles per gallon in 2003 to 21 miles per gallon among the current crop of 2006 models.”
    http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=ind_focus.story&STORY=/www/story/10-31-2005/0004203853&EDATE=MON+Oct+31+2005,+08:06+AM

    Ford has a new web site for its Zephyr
    http://www.wherewillzephyrtakeyou.com/

    Ford’s chief of hybrids resigns
    Wright is out, Gioia takes over. The reorganization continues…
    http://www.freep.com/money/autonews/hybrids29e_20051029.htm
    http://www.newsday.com/business/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-ford-hybrid-head,0,231588.story?coll=sns-ap-business-headlines

    Dual overdrive transmissions for GM and Ford
    GM begins production of new 6-speed automation transmissions (and Ford benefits as well). “GM and Ford Motor Co. shared development costs for the new transmissions in a historic partnership announced in 2002.”
    “The transmissions feature two overdrive gears which reduce engine revolutions per minute by 9 percent at 60 miles per hour …and can enhance fuel economy by 4 percent.”
    http://auto-loan.interest.com/content/articles/auto-loan_story.asp?story_id=84570317&ID=interest

  36. M1EK

    “Aside from correcting your reckless, emotional statement about the marketshare of light trucks sales to car sales,”
    Cite or withdraw.
    The statement of yours with which I took issue was:
    “As I recall, more light trucks of all types, including large SUVs, are sold in the U.S. than cars. Yet, car impacts kill and injure more pedestrians than all light trucks, regardless of type”
    This betrayed an attempt by you to conflate the current vehicle fleet (causing accidents with pedestrians) with new vehicle sales (not the same thing).
    Your participation in these threads has been nothing more but an attempt to obfuscate and otherwise mislead people into thinking that GM (and less so Ford) aren’t in deep, deep, deep doo-doo.
    Note I did this in substantially less than 100 lines of text. Amazing.

  37. Rick

    Another major concern for Ford, GM, and Toyota is Hyundai(Including Kia). Consider a 360% sales increase from 1998, revenue growth of 20% over the past five years, it’s the fastest growing automaker since 1999. It’s not just Ford and GM that should worry. Hyundai has the best warranty in the business, recently opened manufacturing in Alabama, and virtually all models include standard safety features and creature comforts that are optional in other automaker vehicles. (Including Toyota) In the late 1980’s Hyundai was a big joke. My how times change.

  38. Movie Guy

    M1EK,
    I have had other professional individiuals, including automotive engineers from different disciplines and companies, look at your claims and responses. They agree totally that you fail to acknowledge the facts that have been presented on a variety of issues over three different threads of automotive information.
    Everything has been explained and cited by source in sufficient detail for anyone of a reasonable professional and personal bearing to grasp.
    Ford can not afford to make the mistakes that other manufacturers are making regarding hybrid plus designs or pushing up gasoline engine horsepower as some other manufacturers are doing. And I will continue to point out the mistakes that I note which are being made, whether by Toyota or any other auto manufacturer.
    [edited by JDH]

  39. M1EK

    “You can post all kinds of crazy or phony statements on Jim’s blog or any others”
    Name one.
    Just one.
    And do it in less than 100 lines of text, please.
    What I’ve claimed so far:
    1. SUVs are more dangerous for other road users than are cars.
    2. Toyota is selling a lot of hybrid cars and plans on selling a lot more. This makes them better than GM, who had to be dragged into the hybrid market and is still only half-heartedly planning to produce them.
    #1 is backed up by recent studies AND common sense
    #2 is common sense which you have sought to hide by posting hundreds and hundreds of lines of GM PR. (Note that I’ve not had to resort to pulling out press releases from Toyota).

  40. Movie Guy

    A simple example:
    M1EK“The proportion of new vehicle sales DID reach about 50% the last year or two”
    Your statement is simply untrue. It’s absurd. It demonstrates that you have a tendency to play loose with the facts to make your points. Hence, unsubstantiated wild or emotional statements.
    The truth is that light trucks have outsold passenger cars for the last five or six years ( 5 or 6, depending on whether one uses Commerce or auto manufacturers sales data). And since 1998, light truck sales have exceeded passenger car sales by a cumulative total 2.5 million units.
    My response, based on referenced data, is stated above in the posts and summarized below:
    Movie Guy – “Light truck sales from 1998-2004 account for 51.07 percent of all new vehicle sales. Car sales from 1998-2004 represent 48.93 percent.”
    2005 (Year-to-date, as of Sep 05)
    light trucks – 53.7 percent
    2004
    light trucks – 55.36 percent (9.3 million)
    2003
    light trucks – 54.22 percent (9.0 million)
    2002
    light trucks – 51.48 percent (8.7 million)
    2001
    light trucks – 50.88 percent (8.7 million)
    2000
    light trucks – 49.13 percent (8.5 million)
    * Automotive Digest posted information that shows that light truck sales also exceeded passenger car sales in 2000. Trucks – 51 percent, 8.491 million unit sales; 49 percent, 8.046 unit sales.
    ** And I didn’t even use the data to avoid the appearance of selecting the higher percentage data.
    http://www.automotivedigest.com/research/research_results.asp?sigstats_ID=829

  41. Movie Guy

    Rick – “Another major concern for Ford, GM, and Toyota is Hyundai (Including Kia).”
    Well said.
    I have been to the Hyundai plant in Alabama.
    Hyundai is on the right track. With a bit more design shakeoff, their models will take center stage in some instances. The warranty is great, and the price points are quite well placed.
    I can’t go into the specifics, but there has been some speculation and questions regarding how Hyundai made some of its quality and production improvements so quickly. The ramp up is a quick one.

  42. M1EK

    M1EK – “The proportion of new vehicle sales DID reach about 50% the last year or two”
    MovieGuy –
    “Your statement is simply untrue. It’s absurd.”
    ABSURD? Give me a break. Even if light truck sales exceeded 50% a few more years in the past, it’s not ABSURD, it was an underestimate. An honest one, too.
    [edited by JDH]

  43. M1EK

    JDH, if you’re going to leave alone MovieGuy’s comment to me:
    “It demonstrates that you have a tendency to play loose with the facts to make your points. Hence, unsubstantiated wild or emotional statements.”
    while editing out my assertion that he’s being purposefully misleading, you can count me out in the future here. Good luck with the echo chamber.

  44. Movie Guy

    M1EK – Which current and future studies are you referring to with regard to the record of safety for SUVs?
    M1EK – October 26, 2005 06:20 AM – “The conclusion that nobody’s shown that SUVs are less safe for other road users is out of date. Said studies are coming out, right now…
    Movie Guy – October 26, 2005 09:56 AM – “M1Ek, kindly name the new studies. Put up the url links or names the authors and organizations involved in such studies.”
    Movie Guy – October 28, 2005 08:53 PM – “As I requested previously, M1EK, kindly name the new studies. Put up the url links or names the authors and organizations involved in such studies.”
    M1EK – October 31, 2005 10:51 AM – “1. SUVs are more dangerous for other road users than are cars.” “#1 is backed up by recent studies AND common sense”
    QUESTIONS:
    Current studies you mention:
    1. Which recent studies are you talking about?
    2. What are the titles?
    3. Who are the authors?
    4. What organizations released the studies?
    5. When were they released?
    6. Did each or any of the studies refer to the NHSTA FARS data in their analysis work as presented in the text of the studies?
    7. Where is this information available?
    Future studies you mention:
    1. Which future studies are you talking about?
    2. What news or organization sources has made mention of such future studies?
    3. Any idea as to the titles?
    4. Who are the authors?
    5. What organizations will release the studies?
    6. Any estimate on when the studies will be released?
    7. Any idea where will this information will be available?
    As I explained in my original post and subsequently on the subject of vehicle safety and SUVs:
    “While I can make a layman’s argument over the problems of larger vehicles creating more significant hazards for other vehicles and pedestrians, the accident statistics do not generally support such claims. The rollover rate is higher, but not the number of vehicles rolled over. Similarly, projectiles in an SUV create serious risks. But when the issue comes down to actual accidents, the statistics do not show that large SUVs are involved in most accidents. In fact, as a class of vehicle types, the large SUVs are not involved in most accidents, representing only 2.2% of vehicles involved in accidents in 2004.”
    “The largest SUVs, like a Chevy Suburban or GMC Yukon XL, (and perhaps Tahoe and Yukon based on cubic interior dimensions) are classified as Utility Station Wagons.”
    “The NHSTA FARS data for 2004 shows that Utility Station Wagon vehicles were involved in 463 crashes resulting in fatalities, and that this class of vehicles was involved in 0.8 percent of all fatal crashes by vehicle type.”
    “The 2003 FARS data for Utility Station Wagon vehicles indicates 449 vehicles were involved, and this represents 0.8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatalities.”
    “Added together, the large and largest SUVs (by NHSTA classfication) represented 1,529 vehicles and 2.6 percent in 2003, and 1,747 vehicles and 3.0 percent in 2004 of all vehicle fatalities.”
    “Passenger cars, meanwhile, represented 26,169 vehicles and 44.7 percent in 2003, and 25,507 vehicles and 43.7 percent in 2004 of all vehicle fatalities.”
    “If any new SUV safety studies are forthcoming, perhaps the primary focus will be on fatalities and injuries associated with Compact Utility (SUV) trucks. This small SUV classification involved 5,677 vehicles, and 9.7 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 2003 according to NHSTA FARS data; 6,021 vehicles and 10.3 percent in 2004.”
    Per NHSTA FARS data:
    Pedestrians Killed in Single-Vehicle Crashes, by Vehicle Type:
    Passenger Car – 1,916
    Light Truck – 1,688
    Passenger Car, frontal crash – 1,728
    Light Truck, frontal crash – 1,517
    Pedestrians Injured in Single-Vehicle Crashes, by Vehicle Type:
    Passenger Car – 43,000
    Light Truck – 22,000
    Passenger Car, frontal crash – 32,000
    Light Truck, frontal crash – 13,000
    M1Ek, if you have read any recent studies or know of any future studies that discuss these facts, please advise on this blog thread.
    If you have any information whatsoever on current or future studies discussing the safety of SUVs, with or without reference to NHSTA FARS factual data, kindly name the studies or answer any of the questions I addressed above.

  45. Movie Guy

    M1EK,
    Fair enough. Now I understand you a bit better, I will try to give that due consideration.
    I will accept that you may like much of what I post, but if you will view some of the info with an open mind I believe that you will see where I am headed with it. I’m trying to build pieces that fit together in the end.
    If Jim will keep making posts about the automobile industry, we can do a lot with the information by filling in some of the pieces. I believe some people will be surprised.
    There are plenty of considerations on the table, and discussing them is worthwhile. All of these issues involve large investments by the auto manufacturers. Whether the strategies and decisions result in net positive financial and environmental gains are the big questions.
    Anyway, thanks for clearing up your study reference. Yes, I read it and commented previously.

  46. Movie Guy

    M1EK,
    Correction:
    I will accept that you may not like much of what I post, but if you will view some of the info with an open mind I believe that you will see where I am headed with it. I’m trying to build pieces that fit together in the end.

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