Third-Quarter Vehicle Output Plan Slashed

North American auto makers are slashing third-quarter production plans by 220,400 units, compared with volume planned just two months go. The move is blamed on the relentless climb in fuel prices that is making it increasingly difficult to sell fuel-thirsty fullsize pickups and SUVs, while small-car plants are ramping up as much as possible to meet growing demand. July-September vehicle output slate

North American auto makers are slashing third-quarter production plans by 220,400 units, compared with volume planned just two months go.

The move is blamed on the relentless climb in fuel prices that is making it increasingly difficult to sell fuel-thirsty fullsize pickups and SUVs, while small-car plants are ramping up as much as possible to meet growing demand.

July-September vehicle output slate now has 3,359,500 units booked for completion, down 6.2% from the 3,579,900 planned in May and 7.1% less than the 3,614,300 vehicles built in like-2007.

Many of the Big Three large-truck plants are extending their current 2-week summer vacation shutdowns to control bulging dealer inventories. Other factories will be closed for varying periods.

General Motors Corp. recently whacked 170,000 light-truck assemblies from its July-September roster, while Ford Motor Co. is cutting 60,200 units.

The reduction in builds is offset somewhat by increased car production totaling 9,400 units at Ford and 13,500 at GM.

The light-truck downturn also is affecting output plans at Toyota Motor Engineering & Mfg. North America Inc. and Nissan North America. Nissan is cutting production by 5,900 units, mostly large pickups and SUVs, while Toyota is building more small trucks and CUVs at the expense of its slower-selling, large Tundra and Sequoia.

Chrysler LLC is not yet trimming its third-quarter plan, but it likely will do so if its redesigned '09 Dodge Ram pickup's sales stall.

Industry output in January-September is set at 10,452,100, down 10.6% from vehicles built in like-2007.

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