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New model will be fun, stylish and fuel-efficient
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda has, for the first time, officially made clear that the automaker is in fact working on a joint project with Subaru to build an affordable sports car. Toyoda made the statements at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan
The new car will be stylish, yet fuel-efficient and affordable – a vehicle that customers (U.S. customers in particular) can get passionate about.
“You’re going to have to have passion in your products,” said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, adding that obviously any Toyota would also be representative of the company’s focus on quality and value.
The project is an unconventional one for the Japanese automaker, but is part of a new direction that its new CEO, a self-proclaimed ‘car nut’, wants to take the company in. “I want to see Toyota build cars that are fun and exciting to drive,” he said, adding that the Toyobaru will be fast-tracked to market.
Initial first quarter vehicle sales has German carmaker in top spot
If Q1 results are any indication, VW may overtake Toyota as the number one car manufacturer by sales in 2009, and this comes before the German automaker starts selling its new sixth-generation Golf.
Just a few weeks ago we reported that industry research firm R.L. Polk predicted Volkswagen would overtake General Motors as the world’s second-largest automaker in 2009. While not entirely a surprise, what is shocking news is that VW may actually claim the number one spot, limiting Toyota’s run at the top to just one year.
The news comes as first quarter sales figures begin to trickle in. Volkswagen sold roughly 1.39 million vehicles during Q1 for 2009, this compares to Toyota’s forecasted figure of 1.23 million vehicles.
The worldwide economic downturn is as much to blame for Toyota’s poor fortunes, as it is to credit for VW’s good ones. Toyota’s forecast is down 47 percent from Q1 last year, while VW managed to gain market share despite an overall decrease in sales. VW’s Q1 results give the company an 11 percent market share worldwide.
“Volkswagen has the luck of being strong in the markets that are currently growing, while Toyota is exposed to those that are collapsing,” Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of the Center for Automotive Research in Gelsenkirchen told Automotive News.
While Toyota has been exposed to the most troubled international markets, Volkswagen has not – due in part to its relatively small share of the U.S. market. Volkswagen can also thank strong sales in China and Brasil, as well as right at home in Germany – thanks to strong incentive programs by both VW and the German government. In Germany during Q1, car sales actually increased by 4.5 percent.
During the first quarter of 2008, VW sold just 1.57 million vehicles, as compared to Toyota’s 2.41 million, and with numbers like that it’s no wonder just a year ago VW’s claim of becoming the world’s largest automaker by 2018 seemed like a pipe-dream. A worldwide recession certainly can change things.
[Source: Automotive News]