Jim Press:

Year End 2007 – Auto Industry in the Rear View Mirror

0

2007 Rear View Mirror 1.jpg

A stream of consciousness look at the auto industry in 2007. Whew, what a year it was!!!!!!!
Not the Trauma We Expected, but 2007 was Tough
We began the 2007 thinking the year was going to tank into the mid-15,000,000 unit range. That didn’t happen and the industry struggled to just over 16,000,000 units. This reasonably good year was in the face of negative media coverage, a severe housing downturn, a subprime mortgage crisis, soaring gasoline prices, etc.
Saying 2007 at just over 16 million units was a good year will be criticized as nuts, but we have been conditioned since 2000 to think that 17 million is good. It wasn’t too many years ago that 15 million was good. So, 16 million ain’t too bad. Just not what we have become accustomed to. And, by accustomed to, I mean we have plant capacity for many more units. We have dealers in place to sell many more units. We have built our business models and breakeven points on 17 million units and not 16 million.
We began the year with turmoil. Ford was in turmoil and embarking on an aggressive restructuring program with a new CEO at the helm. There were rumors of bankruptcy hovering over Detroit. DaimlerChrysler AG announced that it would off-load its American Chrysler Group and rely on upscale Mercedes-Benz cars, commercial trucks and, of course, Maybach and smart.
Ford Oval Big Blog.jpg

Ford Struggles Through 2007
By year end, Ford is still with us and there are some bright spots in its lineup – Fusion, Edge, MKX, MKZ. The Five Hundred, Montego and Freestyle were freshened, got new engines and renamed Taurus, Sable, Taurus X. Well, the upgrades took, but sales did not and Taurus, et.al have languished on dealer lots. I did see a ton of them on Kauai along with a very high number of Dodge Calibers. So, we know that retail sales for the Ford large cars and Crossover are not doing too well. Ford has retained top spot in big truck sales with F-Series remaining the sales leader even with Silverado and Tundra coming on strong and the Dodge Ram pickup offered at fire sale prices. Ford unloaded Aston Martin and spent the year doing due diligence on off-loading Jaguar and Land Rover (probably to India’s Tata Motors). Ford will keep Volvo, however.
To help Ford with sales and marketing, Ford lured Jim Farley to the Company. Formerly Group Vice President of Toyota’s Lexus Division, Farley was a rising star in the Toyota ranks. A friend of the Ford family, Farley appears positioned to challenge Ford’s other young star – Mark Fields – as the heir apparent to Alan Mulally in four or five years.
Chrysler LLC Logo.jpg

Now, It’s Chrysler LLC
DaimlerChrysler gave Chrysler Group to Cerberus Capital Management retaining a 19.9% stake. Cerberus promptly named Bob Nardelli – formerly hard charging CEO of Home Depot and General Electric – as CEO of Chrysler LLC. Nardelli’s lack of specific auto industry experience was offset by Cerberus adding highly respected Toyota executive Jim Press as co-COO. Press is working his way through Chrysler’s activities using the revered Toyota Five Whys approach (a question asking method used to explore the cause/effect relationships underlying a particular problem. Ultimately, the goal of applying the 5 Whys method is to determine a root cause of a defect or problem). Five Whys, understandably, has Chrysler vets on edge. They now have to justify everything. Nardelli, Press and Tom LaSorda are facing soft sales, high inventories, sub-par interiors in many cars and an image gap. With $10 billion in loans, Chrysler LLC has some time to prove itself or position itself for a takeover or a parceling out of components (like Jeep, Dodge Truck, Minivans, etc). Oh, yeah, DaimlerChrysler became Daimler AG in October.
GM Brand Mark Small.jpg


General Motors Has Turned the Corner

General Motors appears to have turned the corner. GM has kept its head down during 2007 staying out of the feeding frenzy the media has directed at Ford and Chrysler. Not that there aren’t numerous stories written about GM, it’s just that there hasn’t been the bad news to whet the appetite of journalists.
GM’s products are improving now that the early efforts of Bob Lutz are being seen. While cars like the Saturn Aura and trucks like the Lambda Crossover SUVs and GMT900s have set the tone, Lutz’ real impact has been seen on the 2008 Cadillac CTS and 2008 Chevrolet Malibu. Both of these cars will serve to cement GM’s car lineup for years to come.


Continue Reading

Unbelievable – Jim Press Joins Chrysler LLC

0

We don’t normally get involved in reporting on the management at carmakers. We don’t figure that these faceless heads are of much interest to our readers, but in the case of Chrysler LLC’s new management the stories are unfolding and they are very, very interesting. The latest is the move of Jim Press from Toyota to Chrysler.

Jim Press Tundra blog.jpg

Incredible. Unbelievable. Jim Press, the top American at Toyota has left the Japanese firm he has been with for 37 years to join Chrysler as Vice Chairman and President responsible Sales, International Sales, Marketing, Product Strategy, Service and Parts.
One of the true gentlemen of the industry – domestic or import – Press was at the helm of Toyota Motor Sales as the firm blasted past its Japanese rivals and then began to pick off Chrysler and Ford in monthly sales figures. Press was on the board of Toyota Motor Limited – the Japanese mothership – and had moved from Toyota Motor Sales’ Torrance, California headquarters to run all of Toyota’s North American operations from New York during 2006. It is likely this move upwards to New York that took Press out of his comfort zone and made any approach by Chrysler possible.
In his new job, Press has the same title as Tom LaSorda. Chrysler said LaSorda will be responsible for manufacturing and suppliers, while Press will be responsible for sales and marketing, product strategy and service and parts. Both will report to Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli. This is the second high profile choice that undermines LaSorda’s previous position as Chairman of Chrysler… first came Nardelli and now Press.
Press joins another Toyota alum, Debra Wahl Meyer, in moving to Chrysler. Wahy Meyer was tapped last month to be Vice President of Marketing. She had previously been Vice President of Marketing at Toyota’s Lexus Division.
“Part of my new responsibilities will be strengthening and energizing the dealer body,” Press said in a statement. “This is something I was passionate about at Toyota and will be passionate about at Chrysler.” This, of course, will be a challenge for Press because Chrysler dealers are a restive group of late. In his days as head of TMS, Press’ relationships with Toyota dealers was solid. Dealers respected Press and he respected the dealers. Chrysler’s dealer relations are so far in the dumps, however, that it will take months, if not years, for them to be repaired.


Continue Reading

2007 Toyota Tundra – The Breakthrough Expected?

2

Arguably the biggest news at the Chicago Auto Show was the first glimpse of the all new 2007 Toyota Tundra pickup. Well, maybe it was not arguably, but absolutely the biggest news. Can Toyota be stopped? Will the Tundra gut the family jewels of the Big Three chipping away at the last remaining profitable units in the Silverado, Ram and F-Series lineups? Is the Tundra a breakthrough in full size pickup design? Has Toyota finally fielded a fully competitive pickup? Lots of questions were answered at Chicago and many remain to be answered. VehicleVoice correspondents and AutoPacific analysts were on hand to see the reveal of the Tundra first hand.

Toyota Motor Sales, USA President Jim Press Pitching the New Tundra
Clearly the new Tundra is a substantially stronger competitor than the present Tundra. It is larger and will have a 5.7L V8 available as its top powertrain. With a larger displacement than the Nissan Titan, it is expected the Tundra V8 will get about 325HP although power numbers were not provided. The Tundra 4×4 shown on the stand can tow 10,000 pounds which should be class-leading among half-ton pickups. But many people were expecting the new Tundra to be a breakthrough product. They were expecting a new benchmark for full size pickups. They were expecting Tundra to be 105% of a typical half ton pickup.
What they got was maybe 101% or 102%. Nice truck. But not as muy macho as the FT-X Concept Truck of 2004.


Continue Reading

Follow VehicleVoice

RSS Feed   Facebook   Twitter

2018 NVSS

2018 New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey
By Invitation Only


Start Survey

Membership

Join

Recent Winners

Sid P., Washington - $100
Ken G., Nevada - $100
Brad T., Wisconsin - $100
Tom M., Virginia - $100
Kathy F., New Jersey - $100
John M., Massachusetts - $100
Mike M., California - $100
Carol R., Texas - $100
James D., Georgia - $100
Martha B., New Jersey - $100
Kerry B., Pennsylvania - $100

What is VehicleVoice?

About Vehicle Voice