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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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 ofbellicose

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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.
--
~~Philip "Never let school interfere
with your education - Mark Twain"
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<snip> As for a typical GM product? 150K

I've owned Hondas, Subarus, Toyotas, Mitsubishi and now a '97 Chevy Suburban and I do all my own wrenching/maintenance. I bought the Burb thinking that GM had finally stepped up to the plate for quality and reliability (along with the "other" domestic marques). Nope, that Professional Grade stuff is just marketing hype.
That @#%&%! thing started falling apart @ 50,000 mi. when the AC compressor teflon seals went and since then the transmission has eaten its young when the TCC solenoid failed and the sun reaction shell cracked at the spin weld, the engine intake manifold gasket leaked, the wiper control board failed, the rear axles seals failed and ruined the rear brakes in the process, the exhaust system cracked in two and fell off, the brake vacuum booster unit failed, the front ball joints needed to be replaced because the rubber grease bladder rotted and split open, it was recalled because the electric rear-view mirror switch would short out and set the driver's door on fire, it eats brake pads every 25k mi. (and doesn't stop very good when the brakes are OK), the drivers seat rocks back and forth because a small internal piece breaks and I've had to replace the oil lines twice and now the third set are starting to leak at the couplings.
Two of the failures torpedoed our family summer vacation plans two years in a row. Digging around on the web, these problems are well-known on Suburbans and GM continues to make the same 4L60E transmission with the same defective valve body and sun shell to this day. It now has 95,000 mi. on it and the next "well known" failures waiting for me are the $600 fuel pump module in the gas tank and the $800 Eaton limited-slip differential grenading without warning. The damn thing has cost me $6000 in repairs, more than *all* my previous vehicles combined!! All of those previous vehicles went well over 100,000+ mi. with only the expected consumables like plugs, belts, filters, oil and tires needing attention. Our current 12 yr. old Mitsubishi Montero is still running strong @ 120,000 mi. and is ready to be passed on to our oldest boy that will soon be getting his license.
This snake-bit Suburban is my first and last(!!) GM and I'm trading it in on a new Toyota Sequoia for the wife and a new Tundra Double Cab for me. Like someone wiser than me said, "There is no education in the second kick of a mule." No more GM for us ... ever!
VLJ
--


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vlj wrote:

can get a new Suburban for about $3000 less than a Sequoia, using Mikes logic, its a good value, but he doesnt keep anything out of the 3/36 warranty.
--








SENATOR ZELL MILLER DEMOCRAT OF GEORGIA, the nation's most prominent
conservative Democrat, said today he will endorse President Bush for
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There seem to be a lot of Toyotas and othe Japanese vehicles on GM dealers used car lots. I wonder what stories they could tell, as well?
mike hunt
vlj wrote:

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Well mike, I suppose its like what kind of foods other people like to eat or what kind of sexual proclivites they have. I don't know and, frankly, don't care as its outside my scope of interest.
Being a mechanical engineer that has wrenched all of his own vehicles since my first Honda Supersport 125 twin in 1966, I'm underwhelmed with the design and quality I've found in my Suburban. I find the Asian marques easier to work on, designed and assembled with more though about how someone might have to do "on the vehicle" maintenance, the quality of the metallurgy and fasteners to be superior and the gasket/sealing material of better quality and less leak prone.
Sure, a sample of 1 is not statistically significant but that is immaterial. When it comes to what I like or don't like, I'm the world's most consummate expert and my personal hands-on experience with my G(enerally) M(ediocre) product has left me not wanting any more of it nor future experiences.
VLJ
--


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I have no personal opinion of Subaru but I would suggest you do a little research. You will find Subaru is a division of a Japanese corporation, only 20% owned by GM. You might check the first digit of you VIN, as well, before declaring all GM products as sub standard and Japanese products without fault.
mike hunt
vlj wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.com wrote in message

that's why i hate my subaru. i thought i was buying a good japanese car, and then after i started having a number of problems, i found out that fugi heavy industries is 20% gm. i bet that 20% of cost cutting crap is what made my subaru suck.
mike
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Naw Subaru made your Subaru suck, they always did suck with their 1950's technology. Subaru almost went out of business in the US until they put bigger wheels, lights, and wheel well flares on their station wagons and started calling them SUV's. Brilliant marking move on their part that saved their ass ;)
mike bunt
Mike Deskevich wrote:

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