Can Anything Stop Toyota?

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http://yahoo.businessweek.com/magazine/content/03_46/b3858001_mz001.htm An inside look at how it's reinventing the auto industry.
Yoi kangae, yoi shina! that's Toyota-speak for "Good thinking means good
products." The slogan is emblazoned on a giant banner hanging across the company's Takaoka assembly plant, an hour outside the city of Nagoya. Plenty of good thinking has gone into the high-tech ballet that's performed here 17 hours a day. Six separate car models -- from the Corolla compact to the new youth-oriented Scion xB -- glide along on a single production line in any of a half-dozen colors. Overhead, car doors flow by on a conveyor belt that descends to floor level and drops off the right door in the correct color for each vehicle. This efficiency means Takaoka workers can build a car in just 20 hours.
The combination of speed and flexibility is world class. More important, a similar dance is happening at 30 Toyota plants worldwide, with some able to make as many as eight different models on the same line. That is leading to a monster increase in productivity and market responsiveness -- all part of the company's obsession with what President Fujio Cho calls "the criticality of speed."
Remember when Japan was going to take over the world? Corporate America was apoplectic at the idea that every Japanese company might be as obsessive, productive, and well-managed as Toyota Motor Corp. (TM ). We know what happened next: One of the longest crashes in business history revealed most of Japan Inc. to be debt-addicted, inefficient, and clueless. Today, 13 years after the Nikkei peaked, Japan is still struggling to avoid permanent decline. World domination? Hardly.
Except in one corner. In autos, the Japanese rule. And in Japan, one company -- Toyota -- combines the size, financial clout, and manufacturing excellence needed to dominate the global car industry in a way no company ever has. Sure, Toyota, with $146 billion in sales, may not be tops in every category. GM is bigger -- for now. Nissan Motor Co. (NSANY ) makes slightly more profit per vehicle in North America, and its U.S. plants are more efficient. Both Nissan and Honda have flexible assembly lines, too. But no car company is as strong as Toyota in so many areas.
Of course, the carmaker has always moved steadily forward: Its executives created the doctrine of kaizen, or continuous improvement. "They find a hole, and they plug it," says auto-industry consultant Maryann Keller. "They methodically study problems, and they solve them." But in the past few years, Toyota has accelerated these gains, raising the bar for the entire industry. Consider:
-- Toyota is closing in on Chrysler to become the third-biggest carmaker in the U.S. Its U.S. share, rising steadily, is now above 11%.
-- At its current rate of expansion, Toyota could pass Ford Motor Co. (F ) in mid-decade as the world's No. 2 auto maker. The No. 1 spot -- still occupied by General Motors Corp. (GM ), with 15% of the global market -- would be the next target. President Cho's goal is 15% of global sales by 2010, up from 10% today. "They dominate wherever they go," says Nobuhiko Kawamoto, former president of Honda Motor Co. (HMC ). "They try to take over everything."
-- Toyota has broken the Japanese curse of running companies simply for sales gains, not profit. Its operating margin of 8%-plus (vs. 2% in 1993) now dwarfs those of Detroit's Big Three. Even with the impact of the strong yen, estimated 2003 profits of $7.2 billion will be double 1999's level. On Nov. 5, the company reported profits of $4.8 billion on sales of $75 billion for the six months ended Sept. 30. Results like that have given Toyota a market capitalization of $110 billion -- more than that of GM, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler (DCX ) combined.
-- The company has not only rounded out its product line in the U.S., with sport-utility vehicles, trucks, and a hit minivan, but it also has seized the psychological advantage in the market with the Prius, an eco-friendly
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No matter what they do they still have some of the same crummy dealers and that is where the rubber meets the road. For example, go look at the sticker on a toy and look at some of the options put on the car. Then asked the salesperson is the leather seats come from the factory and don't be suprised if they tell you that all the options are put on somewhere else before the car gets to the dealer. Here in central Okla. its Gulf States Toyota in Houston. The guy at two toy dealers told me the same thing when we asked why the seats all looked different and he told us the leather and most options are put on the car in Houston not the factory. Quality a little sloppy. Personally I think all Toyota with exception of the Highlander are way over priced for what you get. IMHO. Out

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Yeah but you either pay more in the beginning or you will put it up for repairs down the line. Toyota quality is so well known, your car will be worth more down the line than your average ford or chevy.

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Well said.
JP
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JP wrote:

OTOH, as a used car, which the other 70%+ of us purchase, they are terrible choices. What you want used is something that is made well and yet has a poor image/desireability. My friend had a Stratus for a few years. He bought it one year old for $14K. Every option and the V6 engine for $5K less than a new one. Perfectly decent car. It went as fast as a Camry V6 but cost $10K less.
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Joseph Oberlander wrote:

It's a matter of what you need out of your car- for some of us, going _fast_ isn't as important as going _far_. (some need at least 150k for the car to even be considered)
I'll be honest, I got strange looks when I brought my '96 bird in for its 140k, 145k servicing. I imagine I'll get some really strange looks when I bring it in for its 150k next month. (their posted list of recommended maint. only goes to 150k) Why is this? Why is the scheduler surprised when I have to correct them "no, that's the 145,000 mile checkup, not the 45,000 mile checkup". That would be an interesting experiment- there are several techs that read this group- what's the highest milage you've ever seen on a Ford, or any other domestic car for that matter (don't include the Camrys made in Kentucky, or the Corollas made in California)?
As I understand it, Toyota sacrifices styling and creature comforts for longevity. American cars do the opposite. It's all in what's important to you. My '96 bird- had a lot of comforts that I really liked, I could get a V8 in it and it was reasonably stylish. At the time I bought it, I was driving ~12 miles per day. Now I drive 100+ miles per day, and the old bird is starting to show the wear. As much as I hate to say it, when my bird dies, it will probably be replaced by a Toyota with either a Camry or Corolla frame. (I need to get at least 150k out of my next car just to get it paid off!!! - and I'd like some gravy miles on top of that...)
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On Wed, 12 Nov 2003 23:03:19 GMT, Brian Steele wrote:

I'm not a tech, but

a friend of mine had an older Dodge Colt with over 250K miles on it (or something exceptionally high like that) before it would have required more repairs than it was worth. He really liked that car.
-D
--
If your life is a hard drive,
Christ can be your backup.
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More years ago than I'd like to admit to I bought a 58 Buick Special for 75 bucks. It had 100,000 miles on it. I drove it for about 14 years and sold it with 220,000 miles on it for $100.00. And it still ran well, but was beginning to smoke a bit. Parts were getting difficult to get, as it was about 26 years old. But it always ran well. Not great for mileage, but a very comfortable car on a long trip. Worst job I had to do was replacing a universal joint- it had an enclosed driveshaft. Tires, batteries, brakes, and the usual electrical wiring problems with an old car. And 1 set of ball joints. Nothing expensive, never opened up the motor. Starter was a switch on the carb- turn the key on and floor it to engage the starter. When the switch finally wore out I hotwired it and put switches on the hotwires. Had one frustrating problem- massive oil leak from #1 cylinder. Finally got hold of a mechanic who was familiar with the year. It had a vacuum pump mounted with the oil pump for the vacuum wipers, as well as a vacuum line from #1 cylinder intake runner. The gasket for the oil/vacuum pumps had let go, so I had pressurized oil being fed into the vacuum wiper motor and sucked out into the #1 cylinder intake runner. Dropped the pan and changed the gasket and it was cured. (It looked like I was fogging for mosquitoes so much oil was running through it. LOL) It was also a very fast car on the freeway. If you remember what a 58 Buick looked like, it looked like it was doing about 40 when it was actually doing 80. Almost impossible to get a speeding ticket. I was once overtaking a bright orange Camaro on rt. 10 by Fontana, Ca. when I saw the cop on the overpass. The Camaro got the ticket. That old baby blue Buick was real stealthy when it came to speeding.
max-income
--
Every day is a good day- it's just that some are better than others.

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Derrick 'dman' Hudson wrote:

Not bad for a Mitsubishi.
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for
looks
145,000
Kentucky,
I think the primary reason the books only go to 150k is due to the throw away mentality prevalent in the US today. Most people don't keep their vehicles past 5-6 years and since they figure the "average" driver runs 10-15k a year. They are covered. As for mileage on domestics, I have only bought 2 vehicles that had less than 100k on them when I got them. The outfit I used to work for had Dodge Caravans for service vehicles, they were all run over 100k a year, I had one that I took to 180k in 1.5 years. My personal vehicles are 94 Blazer 4.3 - 102,000 (had 80 on it when I got it) 95 GMC Duravan Conversion 5.7 - 98,000 (had 89 on it when I got it) 78 Olds Starfire 3.8 - 245,000 original (engine has not been opened) Sold a 74 Nova that had over 200k on it, but I did put a new engine in. 71 Vega GT that had somewhere near 300k on it when it was wrecked. I know of a lot of state (NY) vehicles that have over 100,000 on them when they go to auction.
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I always get inexpensive cars 10-26 years old and rarely has one started much past 90,000 miles. The first--1969 Dart 225 six was a Grandma's car (I had the documentation to prove it) at 69K. I bought a 1968 Chevelle 4dr 230something six with 136K and it went to new owners with 171K two years later. I got reports of sitings at least three years later, so I'll bet it hit 210K.

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Brian Steele wrote:

They run old Caprices and Towncars as taxis up to 400-500K miles. Of course, they get constant attention and repairs. As for a typical GM product? 150K or 15 years is their lifespan. Sure, they'll run, but the engine is tired and worn out by then. Everything is falling apart as well.
OTOH, I don't see many old imports out there either. Mostly European vehicles over 15 years old. Oh - and 4*4s. Lots of ratty old Broncos and Land Crusiers.

I'd recommend a low mileage Mercedes or Volvo myself. Luxury and will eat up highway miles. Also consider a Crown Vic. Ford *does* make a car that is overbuilt and made as well as anything else on the planet - but only one. Edmunds gives it a 8.5 rating, and police love it. I rented one a few years ago and it was great - gobs of power and very quiet rolling along at 70mph.
$20K for a base model, which makes it the least expensive V8 out there. No, that's not a typo. $24K typical market price for a 2003 plus $4K in rebates. Buy an 4 cylinder Accord or a Crown Vic? Gosh - that's a tough choice. If you plan to run a car into the ground, it's a perfect budget choice. It also won a ton of awards for sized vehicles.
Edmunds gives it their large car "best bet" rating for a used vehicle.
2003 was evidently a big upgrade from the previous years in suspension and safety. They changed the steering as well to a varaible assist mode, which helps as well - defineately not as vague on the highway.
The big deal, though, is the upgrades - the performance and suspension package (a must), and dual exhaust. This helps the ride immensely. Most that I saw recently for sale were equipped with it.
Used? An older style(square) 1997 TownCar like you see taxis still running around is perfect, or a 2-3 year old Marquis/Crown Vic. $15K should get you a mint condition one. Compared to a puny new $15K Civic?. More power, more safety, more space. I'd also get one instead of a SUV anyday. 6 people in comfort and 25mpg.
(checks autos.msn) A 1999 Crown Vic coming off a first-owner lease(ie - not a fleet service model) goes for about $11K. Get one with 30-40K that some elderly person drove and enjoy while you laugh at the Corolla you could have had. That would be my drive for 150K choice.
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In being of bellicose mind posted:

I have more fun in the Corolla than I would in a Crown Vic. If I were in the passenger transport business, then a Crown Vic or a Towncar would be the only choices. Or... if I wanted to drive something that made me look older. >:-( And as you point out, a Crown Vic is similar to a Dodge Neon where low buy-in and plunging resale are concerned.
--
~~Philip "Never let school interfere
with your education - Mark Twain"
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Philip wrote:

They actually hold their value as USED vehicles quite well. It's just the first 2-4 years that they depreciate fast due to all of the fleet sales and used taxis and police cruisers(most of which are totalled/salvaged - likely half of 1-4 year old cars)
This of course drops their value, but the cars are quite decent used. Buy for $10K and sell for 6-7K a few years later.
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Problem is trying to find a non-smoker's car. I was looking at used Lexus's and everyone stunk of cigarette smoke. These were certified pre-owned Lexus vehicles.
being of bellicose

a
used.
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In being of

I've been out to the Fontana auction twice in the past three months (friend is a reseller). Sorry, but C/V's have an -average- resale record. Not plunging ... and not steller. Auctions are where the _real_ -market- value of cars is discovered. A model line's popularity, mechanical history, and durability are reflected in the sale price. What happens at the retail level is dictated by salesmanship and financing.
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A two year old CV is worth more than a two year old Camry, according to NADA. Considering that the mid sized V6 Camry cost as much or more to drive home when new than the larger V8 CV/GM seems to me the CV is by far the better buy. The CV and GM may be driven by an average older buyer but Toyotas are drive by more woman. Who is the smarter buyer, the average woman or those that have acquired the wisdom that comes with age? Face it Toyotas are overpriced, if you want to spend more because because you think you are getting a better vehicle that's your privilege ;)
mike hunt
"Philip" wrote:

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In being of bellicose mind posted:

Well... out here in Orange County, CA, things are a little different.
Assmptions: 2001 model, 40k miles on odometer, car is in "Good" condition, same appointments.
Trade-in value to dealer. Ford Crown Vic LX model. $10,895 Toyota Camry LE (w V6) $10,610
Interesting discovery concerning Quality Ratings (JD Powers).
Ford dealship experience was 2 stars out of possible 5 "Five Year Cost of Ownership" revealed a -depreciation- of $15,973.
Toyota dealership experience was 4 stars out of possible 5 "Five Year Cost of Ownership" revealed a -depreciation- of $10,842.
Total Cost of Ownership over 5 yrs (Depreciation, Finanace, Insurance, State Fees, Fuel, Maintenance, Repairs)
Ford Crown Vic $33,296 Toyota Camry $26,393
These stats were gleaned from Kelly Bluebook Online.
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Philip wrote:

Reliability is simmilar, though. Both are well made vehicles, despite the dealers.

Let's re-calculate from the $10,895/$10,610 price. The assumption was that you buy one used to save that horrendous depreciation. I bet both have long-term costs that are simmilar once you knock off the first couple of years.
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In being of bellicose mind posted:

No. The Kelly Blue Book assumption IS that you bought NEW and kept the vehicle for 5 years and then traded it in. As I stated (and you trimmed from the original post), the figures with detailed definitions are available on Kelly Blue Book (www.kbb.com)
What you want to "bet" just ain't so unless you adjust the ownership parameters. That is what you would like to do now.
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