Monday, November 17, 2003

Automakers think outside the hybrid?
GM's adoption of displacement-on-demand (DOD) is a good example. It's designed so you don't notice it, even though it should save more fuel than the current Toyota and Honda hybrids do on a fleetwide basis (?). Phil Martens, head of vehicle development at Ford, believes consumers will prefer "clean diesel" tech to hybrids, and he hopes to phase such an engine into Ford's SUVs and F-150 pickup line in a few years. Chrysler plans to sell 5,000 "clean diesel" 2005 Jeep Liberty SUVs next year. That Liberty will get about 25 to 27 mpg vs. 20 mpg for the gas-engine Liberty.

More on why Toyota is beating Ford.
Toyota now outsells and out-earns Ford in passenger cars. American automakers are shifting their attention to trucks, perhaps because they are beginning to throw in the towel on passenger cars in favor of the Japanese.
"In cars, Toyota owns the place," says Brian Lund, equity analyst for Morningstar. "GM and Ford and Chrysler have, in many ways, given up on cars. They have retained interest in luxury vehicles and light trucks, because they are high margin. In terms of cars, they maintain what they do because of fuel efficiency requirements."
Indeed, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard, which is regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, applies to a company's aggregate fuel economy. Having small cars with good gas mileage in the fleet helps offset the damage done by increasing numbers of SUVs.


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