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Ford & Toyota are talking to each other. About what really isn't known. However, whatever they were talking about was enough to get Ford's CEO to make a 24 hour round trip to Tokyo....

Ford chief executive Alan R. Mulally and Mark Fields, the head of Ford’s operations in the Americas, met with Toyota chairman Fujio Cho and other senior Toyota executives, senior officials at both companies who spoke on condition of anonymity said today.

The trip came as Ford is mired in one of the worst financial crises in its history, while Toyota is in its strongest position since it was founded 70 years ago.

Toyota ranks as the world’s second biggest car company, behind General Motors, which it is likely to pass next year to take the number one spot. Ford is the third biggest, having been passed by Toyota in 1983. Last week, internal projections by Ford showed the company expects Toyota to unseat it as the No. 2 company in the American market during 2007.

Toyota claims that it was just a "get acquainted" meeting....

Toyota spokeswoman Yasue Kato said Cho and Mulhally "met and exchanged greetings," but refused to offer any further details, including when and where the talks took place. She added that Toyota "regularly holds meetings with other automakers when the opportunity presents itself."

Even though the nature of the discussions isn't really known, analysts don't "believe" these talks are full scale merger negotiations. Instead, it's believed Ford may be negotiating for Toyota's Hybrid Technology....

Japanese press reports said executives from Ford and Toyota discussed development of hybrid-electric and hydrogen powered cars and ways that Toyota could help Ford improve its manufacturing efficiency.

Toyota, the world’s leader in hybrid-electric cars, licensed hybrid technology to Ford when it was designing the Ford Escape, a small sport utility vehicle. Ford also has its own hybrid program, but it cut back on hybrid development earlier this year, when it decided to place more of an emphasis on developing flexible fuel vehicles that can run on gasoline and another type of fuel, such as ethanol.

Most people are already aware of Toyota's Prius, which uses their Hybrid Synergy Drive. At the Detroit Auto Show early next month, Toyota will roll out the FT-HS Hybrid Sports Concept. A hybrid car with 400hp, that will do 0-60 in 4 seconds, with Toyota hoping to produce a production model for around $35,000....

The FT-HS Hybrid Sports Concept that Toyota will roll out at the Detroit auto show is about the size of the Lexus SC 430. The HSC measures 170.3 inches from tip to tail, and it has a wheelbase of 104.3 inches. It's 73.2 inches wide and 50.8 inches high. Much like the SC 430, the front track is narrowly wider at 63 inches, while the rear track measures 61.2 inches.

This is meant to be a 2+2-style car, large enough for occasional backseat passengers. We probably shouldn't be surprised that it's nearly as big as a Corvette, since it's going to take a lot of space to package an engine, a fuel tank, an electric motor and a battery pack. The restrictive trunk volume of the Lexus GS 430h shows us just how difficult this task can be.

The HSC's long wheelbase should help balance the weight of the sizable battery pack that will be required. In fact, the HSC's weight distribution might even approach the magic mean of 50-percent front/50-percent rear as a result.

Ford shares were up nearly 2% in today's trading, after Wall Street analysts saw the threat of Ford Motor Company falling into full bankruptcy receding a bit. However, the stock has fallen almost 50% since 2005. Ford has suffered around a 25% decline in U.S. market share since the mid-1990s. Ford lost $7 Billion during the first 9 months of 2006. Over the next six years, as many as 30,000 hourly and salaried jobs (more than a 1/4 of their total work force in North America) & 14 plants are expected to be eliminated. Ford is already offering as much as $100,000 in severance packages to workers who will forego all future benefits, except their pension, along with other inducements to meet the needed job cuts....

Originally posted to 医生的宫殿 on Tue Dec 26, 2006 at 07:35 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips/Flames (12+ / 0-)

    The "Big Three" is really 2.5 now anyway. Even though they called it a "merger of equals", many feel that Daimler-Chrysler AG was a takeover of Chrysler by Daimler Benz. Just remember those "Dr. Z commercials....

    2009 Chevrolet Camaro

  •  Is Mazda an also-ran? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Radlein, Rimjob

    Ford has a longer relationship with that company, no?

  •  My wife (5+ / 0-)

    right now drives a Prius.  When we went to the Auto Show a couple years ago, she saw the SC 430 and said that will be her midlife crisis/federal judge car.  If they adopt that into a hybrid, like that concept, but a bit more rounded out, she'll be gunning for that appointment even harder.

    (-7.25, -5.85) "Talk amongst yourselves. The Christian Right: neither Christian nor right. Discuss." --Linda Richman

    by Slartibartfast on Tue Dec 26, 2006 at 07:38:37 PM PST

    •  Better value for money is a Bluetec diesel (0+ / 0-)

      Fuel economy comparable to a hybrid with a single power source as opposed to 2, with a bonus of beaucoups of torque. DaimlerChrysler says Jeep's supposed to get one, for the Grand Cherokee.

      I'd buy a Focus tomorrow if Ford offered a diesel for it.

  •  Next year's Big Three (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, theran, Anna M

    In expected 2007 production: 1. Toyota 2. GM 3. Ford.

    Here's another interesting tidbit: the new head of the auto industry trade association is former Dem congressman Dave McCurdy.

    "I don't make the news, I just report it."--Jean Shepherd, who gave us A Christmas Story.

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Tue Dec 26, 2006 at 07:39:39 PM PST

    •  General Motors (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      GM shares are up 52% for the year, but they're closing 13 plants & did this during the year in order to achieve it...

      In February 2006, GM slashed its annual dividend from 2.00 to $1.00 per share. The reduction saved $565 million a year.

      In March 2006, GM divested 92.36 million shares (reducing their stake from 20% to 3%) of Japanese manufacturer Suzuki, in order to raise $2.3 billion. GM originally invested in Suzuki in the early 1980s.

      On March 23, a private equity consortium including KKR, Goldman Sachs Capital, and Five Mile Capital purchased $8.8 billion, or 78% of GMAC, GM's commercial mortgage arm. The new entity, in which GMAC will own a 21% stake, will be known as Capmark Financial Group.

      On April 3, 2006, GM announced that it would sell 51% of GMAC as a whole to a consortium led by Cerberus Capital Management, raising $14 billion over 3 years. Investors also include Citigroup's private equity arm and Aozora Bank of Japan. The group will pay GM $7.4 billion in cash at closing. GM will retain approximately $20 billion in automobile financing worth an estimated $4 billion over three years.

      GM sold its 8% stake in Isuzu on April 11, 2006, to raise an additional $300 million.

      On June 26, 2006, 35,000 GM workers had agreed to company buyouts, well over the company goal significantly reducing GM's operating costs and future liability.

      On June 26, 2006, 12,600 workers from Delphi, a key supplier to GM, agreed to buyouts and an early retirement plan offered by GM in order to avoid a strike, after a judge agreed to cancel Delphi's union contracts. 5,000 Delphi workers were allowed to flow to GM.

      •  And with GM's support of right-wing media,... (2+ / 0-)

        these days, especially Hannity and Limbaugh, I hope they sink like a rock.

        My entire family has sworn off ever buying another GM vehicle because of this. Too bad too, because GM is making some interesting vehicles these days, but it will be a cold day in hell before we give money to a company that gives millions of dolars to right-wing propagandists who are helping to destroy our nation and our Constitution.

        F**k GM.

        -7.00/-4.77 "Public campaign financing, media reform, and ballot integrity, are all necessary ingredients for a healthy democracy!"

        by Hornito on Tue Dec 26, 2006 at 09:31:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Does it matter who GM advertise to?? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rimjob, ticket punch

          So anyone who advertises on a particular show or network, supports the views of the program? They are trying to sell vehicles, not make political statements. This comment is moronic.

          Anyways, I get sooo sick and tired of all praise Toyota in the media and this blog. I never hear of anyone crtiticizing Toyota avoiding union workers like the plague or putting their biggest investment in the US in TX into gas guzzling trucks. They will have worse MPG than GM new line of trucks and SUV's. They could give a shit about the environment, they are only interested in making money like any other car company. People will be in a shock when the new EPA MPG's for '08 models on hyrbids will be 30-35% lower than the current sticker indicates.

          Also on Who killed the electric car, the idiot director never slams Toyota for stopping production of the electric RAV in 2002-2003 when it sold under 1000 in the 2 years of production. Even the CEO NA of Toyota said the documentary was unfair to GM. Nissan's new hybrid Altima is going to LOSE money for the company as they will only sell them on the coasts, not in "fly over country".

          What has destroyed the domestic automakers is Wall Street. Trying to make stockerholders happy made these companies have short-sighted thinking. Obiviously the Asian autos don't have to look answer to the fucks and deal with legacy costs of retireees. Ford is considering going private, which may be excellent for their healh. The 2008 Saturn Vue will be a plug in hybrid that is to get 45-50 MPG, the 08 Sierra/Silverado is to have a mild hybird. 08 Fusion/Milan/MKZ is to have Ford's first hybrid sedan. Detroit is working on the technology, but it still has to make money for them and affordable to the average buyer.

  •  Have you seen the Toyota (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, theran, Superpole

    commercial that starts out looking and sounding like a Chevy or GM commercial. I was laughing SOOOOO Hard after I saw it.

    It opens with the whole grassy plains view of the countryside with the narrator talking about how the company has 12 plants in the US, has great sales and supports the US economy and it ends with saying

    Toyota, we care (or something like that)

    It's fricking hysterical!!

  •  After seeing the movie (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, rasbobbo, Superpole, Ky DEM

    "Who Killed the Electric Car?", it seemed obvious to me that the American automobile companies can make fuel efficient vehicle, if they set their minds (and engineers) to it.  What is their problem anyway?

    •  What's their problem? 2 words: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rimjob, mickT

      quarterly results. There's a compelling argument in favor of milking cash cows until they die, particularly in the "what have you done for me THIS QUARTER?" word of stock analysts and fund managers. Not to mention stockholders who scream bloody murder when dividends get cut.

      It takes rare courage not to play that game--so if you want to fault Wagoner, Ford and Zetsche for anything, fault them for flagging courage.

    •  They stopped making the electic car because (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of the lack of sales and interest from buyers.  When it comes down to it, buyers are the ones who run the show, and a certain segment demanded SUVs, to hell with any type of conservation.

      "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades."--Pat MacDonald

      by hopscotch1997 on Tue Dec 26, 2006 at 08:39:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How amusing would a take over of Ford by Toyota (6+ / 0-)

    be to that certain segment of the right wingers who brag about driving their Fords and that they only buy American? What would happen to country music? (snark)

  •  Good Diary, Why Does Toyota (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    need Ford?

    Ford has suffered around a 25% decline in U.S. market share since the mid-1990s.

    right there we can see why Ford needs Toyota-- since Toyota grabbed a portion of the market share which Ford lost.

    it will be intriguing to see how this plays out. Ford has to regain market share somehow.

    "Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice." Spinoza

    by Superpole on Tue Dec 26, 2006 at 07:49:31 PM PST

  •  Try this link (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, kaye

    Shit happens.

    I drove shit cars for 50 years.

    Best car pound for pound, dollar for dollar was the VW bug. America cars since the 60s suck.

    Not the workers, the management.

    Get the urge to purge!

    by 0hio on Tue Dec 26, 2006 at 08:58:35 PM PST

  •  There were rumors earlier this year... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, Silent Lurker

    ...about Toyota/GM. I didn't put much stock in those, nor do I believe Ford and Toyota would merger. Can't imagine there'd be much in it for Toyota.

    So the hybrid tech sounds like a good idea.

    My girlfriend and I are saving for a new car, to be purchased sometime around May. We've not yet decided exactly what we want - there are cars like the Honda Fit and the Toyota Matrix that we like, but we'd also really like a hybrid. Anything that gets hybrid tech into more cars, as a stopgap until even better tech is perfected, is a good thing.

    And anything that keeps Ford in business is good. As a UAW member - though a member who doesn't work in the auto industry - I know well the struggles facing autoworkers. I don't want Ford to fail - I want them to finally wake the fuck up and learn that the path forward for Detroit is in embracing green technology, instead of stubbornly resisting it.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Tue Dec 26, 2006 at 09:09:15 PM PST

  •  Family traditions in auto manufacturing (0+ / 0-)

    Both the Toyoda and the Ford family together have a long history of auto manufacturing and being run is a family-corporarte manner.

    The two may make a good fit as both families have shown genuine interest in evolving the automobile into a more green device than is commonly produced.

    The coupled market shares throughout the world would instantly distance the newly combined corporations into market dominance rather than by the incremental increases on the part of Toytota alone.

    Whether the new company could adjust manufacturing processes quickly enough to match Toyota's quality requirements would be the biggest question.

    The second would be what the new company would do to make current Ford owners feel the quality improvements that are being made in the form of "field-fix" operations and warranty improvements on the current fleet of Ford products.

    That particular conundrum must be dealt with in a manner consistant with the expectations of Toyota quality expected by it's customers to dispell any reluctance to buy the Ford nameplate under the newly formed union.

    Political pardons are unacceptable Mr Bush,and so is hiding your daddy's secrets behind exectutive orders,free the truth now.Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

    by wmc418 on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 05:17:23 AM PST

  •  Ford's River Rouge was the model for Toyota City (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    according to this source.

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