Retailers, consumers and prices
Consumer Reports magazine’s senior director for automotive testing, Dave Champion, sat down with correspondents Bernie Woodall and Ben Klayman at the Detroit auto show to discuss the U.S. auto industry, including Toyota’s future, the changing nature of the show, small cars and Chrysler.
“Toyota’s grown incredibly quickly; not only in the number of vehicles that they sell but also in the number of vehicles that they produce. They have a range of vehicles now that’s extremely wide. What Toyota used to have was a great attention to detail on every single part that went into the car and a real focus, very tightly, on the product. Now, with so many different variants and iterations and models, it was very difficult to keep that same focus and that same attention to detail on all the products.”
“The quality of the materials they’ve been using seems to have dropped off and the overall reliability of some of their cars has also not been the stellar (level) that it was in the past.”
“It comes from the top. Look what Alan Mulally’s done at Ford, very focused, one direction, everybody working in that direction. I think the recent changes at Toyota will bring that back, where they focus less on being the biggest, the best, the most stylish or whatever, going back more to their roots, ‘Let’s build something that people will want’ and that will be reliable and bring customers back year after year after year.”
About the Detroit show:
J.D. Power and Associates analyst Jeff Schuster met with Reuters TV and text reporters at the Detroit auto show to discuss the U.S. auto market, including the changing nature of the show and 2010 demand.
About the subdued nature of this year’s show:
“If you look around this show, the message here really is an industry getting back to business. They’re obviously here to sell cars.”
IHS Global Insight analyst Rebecca Lindland met with Reuters TV and text reporters at the Detroit auto show to discuss the industry, including electric and small cars, GM, Chrysler and Toyota, and auto shows past and future.
About electric cars:
“We will eventually see electric cars, mostly because fuel economy regulations are really being forced upon the manufacturers from Washington. It’s a policy and regulation issue. We are not seeing huge amounts of consumer demand out there. Whether it’s an education issue or whether they just say, ‘I’m getting a smaller vehicle anyway. I’m happy with the fuel economy I’m able to get.’ I was disappointed to see that hybrids were still less than 3 percent of the market in 2009, which means 97 percent of people are picking something else.”