The Shift to Smaller Cars Has Begun ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: The Shift to Smaller Cars Has Begun

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Shift to Smaller Cars Has Begun

For years, the automakers have said if customers wanted smaller, more fuel efficient cars, all they need to do is buy them. In the meantime, we're going to continue to build SUVs and trucks, with concentration on safety and power because that's what people are buying.

Well, people are no longer buying as many SUVs and trucks, and so the automakers are living up to their word.  They are making the shift to smaller cars and they are doing so as quickly as they can.

Hyundai, who for years was working to build larger, more luxurious cars, is 'happily' moving back to their focus on smaller cars.  They were one of the few automakers who showed a positive increase in sales last month.   They are also considering switching production at their plant in West Point, GA from a pickup and SUV for Kia Motors into the Elantra and another small car.

"This new era of high oil prices will be a good opportunity for us to expand our reach ... We must press on with our campaign to move into the premium segment," says Hyundai's top strategist Yoon Mong Hyun, "but the focus right now is on small cars."

Honda, because of their small car focus, also showed an increase in sales last month.  But they are also switching away from their larger vehicle segment and increasing production of their smaller cars like the Civic.  Their North American production will increase the number of Civics, while decreasing the number of Odyssey minivans and Pilot SUVs.

"There will be no layoffs. We're just adjusting production given market conditions," spokesman David Iida of Honda said. "We want to manage our stock of vehicles, and not let it get too high."

Toyota, despite the high demand on their hybrids, has seen their sales fall in recent months.  They will be cutting production of the Tundra and Sequoia, while working to increase production of the Prius by starting production in the US in 2010. 

Nissan is cutting production of their Titan and Armada SUVs, although they will produce a large pickup they are under contract for with Chrysler.

Nissan Motor Co., the third-largest Japanese automaker, has also said it will stop building the full-size Titan pickups and Armada SUVs at its Mississippi plant, and instead sell a large pickup produced under contract by Chrysler LLC.

Ford is considering making Mercury their small car nameplate.  According to the NY Times, they will be converting three production plants, including the Michigan Truck plant which builds the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, into producing smaller cars.  Ford has been focusing on their ecoboost engines and is planning on bringing six of their European models to the US.

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