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Toyota Widens Lead Over GM in Big California Market
Mac Gordon
thecarconnection.com

Release of the latest new-vehicle sales number by states from R.L. Polk has affirmed a disconcerting trend for the U.S. Big Three. As the numbers show, California, the nation's number-one market with 1.95 million new-car and truck sales last year, continued to reduce GM, Ford and Chrysler Group shares with increased penetration for Toyota, Nissan and Honda. GM's decrease in retail sales only, excluding fleet and wholesale deliveries, was its fifth in a row and strengthened the first-place finish of Toyota, Lexus and Scion over GM.

Toyota Motor's share of California retail sales in 2003 rose to 20.8 percent, from 19.7 percent the year before. GM dropped to 17.1 percent from 17.8 percent; Ford Motor from 15.5 percent to 14.8 percent; Honda, including Acura, advanced to 13.0 percent from 12.6 percent; and Nissan/Infiniti went from 5.6 percent to 6.7 percent, almost catching up to Chrysler Group's 6.8 percent, a dip from 7.8 percent.

Numerically, the gap between Toyota Motor and GM sales widened to nearly 59,000 units...

That turning things around for GM will not be an easy thing is readily conceded by the general manager of Wes Rydell's GM dealer group in the San Fernando Valley north of L.A., where GM's share of retail flirts with 13 percent. Acknowledging the pro-Japanese tilt of consumers despite GM's flock of new and improved products, Rydell associate Gus Garcia once said in an interview, "The number-one Ford and the number-oneToyota dealers are out there, just north and northeast of L.A. It'll be a uphill climb for GM to bounce back, but we won't stop trying."


Full Story Here

 

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This news for me is expected.

GM couldn't seriously hope to compete with compact cars like the Cavalier (or the equally old S-10) in the cradle of the "Tuner" market, but did just that for so long that people will have trouble immediately accepting Chevys turnaround there. The banner of "Cavalier Replacement" won't be waved by advertisers there.

I also have a friend from the Asian American community there who claims that when deciding to choose a car his friends there have 3 choices: Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, in that order. Chevy, Pontiac, or Saturn aren't even considered. A Dodge Neon SRT-4 or Ford SVT Focus? Maybe - they've earned a little respect. But no way for Taurus and Stratus. Impala? Think again. Camry is the no-brainer. It's the equivalent of the southeast or midwest where Chevy and Ford trucks dominate the landscape --- that rough-shaven farm hand isn't likely to rush down to the local Mazda or Isuzu dealership to buy a truck (much less a Toyota Matrix), and the sales numbers show it.

GM will have a tough time cracking this nut of a market that is so heavily influenced by trends started there.

A couple of products that could help put Chevy on the map in California:

1. Colorado (cool new inline 5 and all new interior/exterior looks help)
2. Aveo Hatch (neat styling, and good reviews (see car&driver, ,motor week, etc.)
3. Cobalt SS
4. Malibu SS

Sorry, no cigar for the Equinox with its dated engine. Pushrod is a 4-letter word in California, like it or not, and "previous generation engine" (compared to new 3.5) isn't helping either.

I want to see Chevy succeed in California, but years of selling "value" product with massive resale-value harming discounts, rather than going toe to toe with Toyota has hurt them big time. Until that attitude towards all major US brands but Cadillac changes ("premium" price for Ultra Buick vehicles just to get a DOHC engine, for instance) - this will be difficult.
 

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There's definitely a mindset around here.

Whenever there are new JD Power statistics to show off, I pin them up on my wall at work, and reaction has become routine among most who come to look at it:

1. Shock
2. Denial
3. Denial
4. Denial

Comments like "it's rigged", or "what did GM pay for that?", etc.

There is hope, as the problem may be generational. Among the younger folks who work on another floor in our building, several have actually come up to me in the parking lot and complimented my CTS, with comments like "as soon as I can afford a nice car, that's the one I'm gonna get".

And while my wife's Escalade evokes subdued positive reaction among parents in our neighborhood, the kids around my son's school make no attempt to contain their enthusiasm for the Cadillac.

And on the freeway, it is becoming clear that increasing numbers among the hip younger set want to be seen in 60's-era Cadillacs. Who knows if that will translate into a more open mind towards new domestics, but it can't be bad.

We already know from articles posted on this site that Cadillac is the new King of Bling, which suggests that traditional "bling" competitors may soon be relegated to old fogey status. It makes sense to extend that to brands like Honda and Toyota as well: increasing numbers of today's kids have moms and dads who drive Hondas and Toyotas, and what can be more uncool that driving your father's car?

So, maybe it's just wishful thinking, but if these observations and anecdotes accurately portray reality, we'll likely not have to put up with this kind of disappointing news indefinitely.
 

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perhaps the californian market is significant, but i think the overall north american picture is a more telling one. i'm sure ford F-150 sales in the heart of texas represent 98% of all vehicles sold, but might very well be a little lower in manhatten! then again perhaps california is a broad enough cross section of the US to provide a glimpse at a wider trend.

some might argue then that worldwide sales mean more than the N.A. market... but i just don't know if these regional trends are very representative. ford advertises its suv's as the best-selling line of suv's in northern new york (i believe)... okay, but the pontiac vibe is the best selling vehicle in my garage! not sure how much either claim means...
 

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Hell, we all know California is the equvalent 2 Bizzaro land anyway so who cares.
 

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Seriously....this report is flawed from the beginning....

The report indicates that it included "Toyota, Lexus, and Scion" as one company compared to GM, but they didn't indicate if this GM data included the other non-domestic GM companies like Saab and Suzuki. The same problem is with Ford's information. Did they restrict Ford to only Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, and not include Volvo, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover, or even Mazda?

This is an apples and oranges report which was pulled together to spin reality.

Thankfully I am the no spin zone for the automotive world!
 

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That's what pisses me off about living in Cali, people cream their pants over hondas and toyotas.

You know what sucks? Yesterday I finally saw a Malibu on the road, it looked awesome, but I remember when the new accord or camry came out I saw them on the road right away. I have seen like 20 new prius' and only one malibu.

It's such a trendy place here, I remember when I saw the new Altima on the net it looked awesome, but it took just as long as the malibu to see one one the road, that's because all people used care about here was toyota or honda now it's nissan also. Hopefully this malibu will catch on.

On a good note, I have seen lot's of new grand prix's so maybe it's a sign of GM recovering here.

I drive my 95 Corvette with lots of AMERICAN pride, and people still gaze at it, so hopefully I'm helping in the whole "let's change the atitude towards domestics in Cali"
 

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I believe that the domestics' poor showing in the past in some areas of the country has been proper comeuppance for nearly 2 decades of a general lack of attention to their vehicles.

However, it's fair to say that the domestics have paid the price and have been putting increasing attention on their vehicles. My guess is that perception will continue to lag reality for at least a few more years. There are many of the 40-60 year olds (I'm guessing at actual demographics) who have been burned by the domestics on a number of occasions, and they may never be back. However, I'm encouraged by younger persons who, for a number of reasons, appear more willing to accept the domestics. For one, if the domestics push their actual quality studies in ads, people will come to [correctly] believe them. And, along the idea of one of Coolcaddy's comments, I've also heard on more than one occasion gen x and gen y folks lamenting that they would never buy a Toyota or a Honda: "Cripes, my parents drive those cars!"

I work among some pretty educated persons, who we know are inclined to buy imported vehicles. It's funny, at every opportunity I push the quality issue with them; I figure that if I say it enough times, they'll come to believe it! In some ways, the Japanese Three (particularly Nissan) are way overrated.
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@Mar 4 2004, 12:22 PM
However, it's fair to say that the domestics have paid the price and have been putting increasing attention on their vehicles. My guess is that perception will continue to lag reality for at least a few more years. There are many of the 40-60 year olds (I'm guessing at actual demographics) who have been burned by the domestics on a number of occasions, and they may never be back. However, I'm encouraged by younger persons who, for a number of reasons, appear more willing to accept the domestics. For one, if the domestics push their actual quality studies in ads, people will come to [correctly] believe them. And, along the idea of one of Coolcaddy's comments, I've also heard on more than one occasion gen x and gen y folks lamenting that they would never buy a Toyota or a Honda: "Cripes, my parents drive those cars!"

I work among some pretty educated persons, who we know are inclined to buy imported vehicles. It's funny, at every opportunity I push the quality issue with them; I figure that if I say it enough times, they'll come to believe it! In some ways, the Japanese Three (particularly Nissan) are way overrated.
I've been a staunch supporter of domestic automobiles for the 20 or so years I've been driving; in fact, I've only owned one foreign-built vehicle in that time (out of 24? purchases).

I'll give you that the domestics have improved, but looking at my current ride, a 2003 TrailBlazer LT, I can honestly say that I've owned my final domestic. Yes, it's got a great powertrain, but the overall fit-and-finish and attention to detail is sadly lacking when compared to many similar foreign SUVs. In short, it's crap. Poor sealing, a 3rd brake light housing that cracked the first time I opened the rear hatch, a horn that works about 80% of the time and windshield wipers that start & stop on their own are just a small list of the "little" problems I've had with this thing.

I have no idea what I'll be purchasing this summer (when I unload this truck) -- I haven't investigated the market enough, but I can safely say it won't be a GM, Ford or DC product (I've owned products from all of these manufacturers over the past couple of decades). I'm strongly leaning towards a couple of German marques at the moment, though.

Just my $0.02,

-John
 
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California has alway been the trend setter for the rest of the country. What California does, the rest of the country soon follows suit.

Californians DO like to have what noone else has. So if GM can make [email protected]$$, cool products, then there is some potential there.

However there is something "sexy" about doing what one is not supposed to, such as weakening your own country to buy foreign products.

So as long as it is "more sexy" to buy a foreign over the domestic product, this trend will continue.

However, I do see a respect within Hollywood for the older American vehicles. There was a show a few years back with Bill Bellamy and some other guy who were dectectives in L.A., on independent TV. The show tended to highlight different cars. They would have a Lamborghini parked next to an Olds 442, and it looked cool. That's why I think GM's job right now is to try and restore that era. I'm not sure what "that era" is. But I'll know it when I see it.

There also is an opportunity for GM and the other domestic producers to make some headway, and that is in the customers perceived quality, over actual quality. As long as customers percieve the Volvo or Toyota as having more quality than the GMC Envoy, for instance, then thei trend will continue. It may take 10 years, or a generation to reverse these trends. But then it may be too late.

<_< <_< <_<

And that's my opinion.

<_< <_< <_< <_<
 

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Originally posted by markform@Mar 4 2004, 02:49 PM
I'm glad you're telling me this, as I was going to buy one.

My next car really has to be an SUV with AWD or 4WD. I need to carry stuff and go on slippery roads, and my current cars just don't have the flexibility.

I want to buy something used, and spend anywhere from $15-$25k. What would you recommend? I'm leaning towards a 4Runner, Explorer or Tahoe.
I can't comment on the current Explorer, but I purchased a 1997 Limited new -- it lasted 5000 miles before it stopped dead. To make a long story short, I got it back six weeks later (I was out of town -- WAY out of town at the time!) with a new engine. Ford later acknowledged they had a "significant issue" with the 4.0L SOHC mill. That was my final Explorer :)

From my experiences, I'd have to say "go for the 4Runner". Or at the very least take a good hard look at the Tahoe, and make certain that it's been screwed together properly!

-John
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Originally posted by bangstudios@Mar 4 2004, 02:37 PM
I'm strongly leaning towards a couple of German marques at the moment, though.
-John
Well, I can tell you to steer clear of Mercedes SUVs for sure. My father owns one, and it has more loose plastic than a Hollywood Star in a clothing store.
 

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Originally posted by Ming@Mar 4 2004, 03:35 PM
Well, I can tell you to steer clear of Mercedes SUVs for sure.  My father owns one, and it has more loose plastic than a Hollywood Star in a clothing store.
Yeah, I'd heard that Mercedes' quality has headed right down the toilet in the past few years. If I stay within the SUV genre I'm looking at either the X5 or a Touareg. If I decide to have an early mid-life crisis it'll either be a Boxster or a 350Z ragtop.

... at least that's the list today! :)

-John
 

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Seriously....this report is flawed from the beginning....

The report indicates that it included "Toyota, Lexus, and Scion" as one company compared to GM, but they didn't indicate if this GM data included the other non-domestic GM companies like Saab and Suzuki. The same problem is with Ford's information. Did they restrict Ford to only Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, and not include Volvo, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Land Rover, or even Mazda?

This is an apples and oranges report which was pulled together to spin reality.

Thankfully I am the no spin zone for the automotive world!
it couldn't possibly include EVERYTHING. i mean, i guess it could, but mazda has to be on some kind of comeback trail for ford. with the new 6, which i've seen a lot of lately, (although i'm in TX) they must be doing better now. then there's the new F-150... i know that's doing well. they sell almost a million trucks a year across the F Series line. GM can't be much different. they have new products in the last couple of years that are doing VERY well here (CTS, Saab 9-3, Hummer H2, Colorado, Canyon, etc.) and i just can't see that we're losing ANYTHING here. our dealership is having a phenomenal year, and i know that some of our biggest competition is in Cali. i think it's a bunch of B/S... that's just my opinion!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Originally posted by bangstudios@Mar 4 2004, 03:46 PM
If I stay within the SUV genre I'm looking at either the X5 or a Touareg. If I decide to have an early mid-life crisis it'll either be a Boxster or a 350Z ragtop.

-John
You only live once, buy a Boxter. :D

The X5 is kinda pointless to me - it has less cargo room than a Ford Escape last I checked. Might as well buy a hatchback and give it a body lift. :p Not sure of the Tooorareggg...but it strikes me as a similarly somewhat pointless idea. An Audi AWD wagon makes more sense if that's the direction you're going.
 

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Originally posted by bangstudios@Mar 4 2004, 07:37 PM
I'll give you that the domestics have improved, but looking at my current ride, a 2003 TrailBlazer LT, I can honestly say that I've owned my final domestic. Yes, it's got a great powertrain, but the overall fit-and-finish and attention to detail is sadly lacking when compared to many similar foreign SUVs. In short, it's crap. Poor sealing, a 3rd brake light housing that cracked the first time I opened the rear hatch, a horn that works about 80% of the time and windshield wipers that start & stop on their own are just a small list of the "little" problems I've had with this thing.
It sounds like you've had a different experience than I've had with my GM vehicles, and I couldn't fault you for buying import, but it's important to realize GM (and the other Big Three) aren't majority companies when it comes to problem cars.

Funny, though I LOVE talking cars, I'm not into buying cars very frequently (they're a phenomenol waste of money). I've only owned GM vehicles. Without exception, and driving them for a while (again, I don't like to buy cars frequently), I have had zero problems with my Chevy's and present Pontiac (knock on wood). Although I support GM, I'm a bit surprised that I haven't had ANY problems.

I also take great delight in sharing this information with a friend who I've now had to pick up at a Nissan dealership 3 times in the past month alone to repair her younger, lower-mileage Altima. It's funny that she stands by her Nissan (incidently, she had to take it in at a mere 2,000 miles for transmission repairs!).

Then there's the friend who's VW Golf also had transmission problems about 10,000 miles into her ownership (she still won't admit that Germans don't do it better than anyone else).

Then, I have a friend who scoffed at the idea of buying a CTS: "I'm never going to buy a Cadillac. It's an old person's car." I wonder if he felt so confident in his Audi A4 that had to be towed 3(!) times when it just decided to take a rest on the side of the road in the winter. I jokingly pointed out that the CTS scored 88 ppv in the latest JD Power study. :rolleyes:

Then, my braniac cousin, who swears by her Volvo S80, has also had to have her vehicle towed no less than 3 times for mysterious engine problems. She continues to have problems with her Volvo to this day, but she continues to be adament that she would never drive an American vehicle. She thinks American cars are too "boxy" (yes, she drives a Volvo and actually said this!).

In the mean time, I continue to drive my trouble-free GM vehicles. Again, much to my surprise, I really just take them in religiously for routine maintenance.

Good luck with this summer's vehicle purchase...
 
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