Ford, Chrysler Running Slow as Small Cars Speed Up

by : RyanThomas

Auto analysts' predictions are coming to life. Indeed, small cars are in for a good catch. This fact made automakers dependent on huge vehicles suffer more. As small cars speed turnaround incidence, huge vehicles run slow. This is why the Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group are left far behind in regard auto sales and profitability.

The plight is obvious in Detroit - Ford and Chrysler are running slow because hot-selling fuel-efficient small cars from BMW are increasing acceleration to yield sales target. Ford and Chrysler posted sales decline and overwhelming losses. The damage was graver than that suffered by General Motors Corp., which had a startling sales gain. Nevertheless, GM said it will not slash its vehicle production in North America by 5 percent in the second quarter. Ford, on the other hand, will cut auto output by 14 percent in the same period.

Compared to the previous year's levels, sales in the United States market were flat. Canadians drove off dealers' lots in 97,248 new cars and trucks last month. In February last year, Canada recorded 97,594 sales.

Small cars sales soar in January this year. The increase was attributed to the increase in gas prices. In Toronto, some stations ran out of gas. Circumstances have been good to Nissan Canada Inc. because that helped propelled Versa subcompact to yield the best performance of the month among the powerful rivals. The subcompact got a 31 percent sales gain. The automaker sold 1,101 Versa models in February thus the average sales of about 1,000 cars monthly.

The Nissan Versa went on sale in the United States and Canada in July last year. The car is powered by a 1.8 L I4 MR Series engine producing 122 horsepower and 127 ft&bulllbf of torque. The Versa offers three transmissions that include the 4-speed automatic, a continuously variable transmission, and a 6-speed manual. The transmission is complemented by , rotors, suspension, brakes and radiator for optimum efficiency. Versa is the only car in its class to offer a six-speed manual transmission as an option.

The 2008 version of Versa may integrate an SE or SE-R version with the 1.8 liter engine to produce more power. Also, upgraded suspension and ultra-low sulfur diesel engines may be entertained by Nissan. The automaker may also add the 3D navigation system as an option. The MSRP ranges from US$12,000 to $15,500. The Versa competes with the Yaris from Toyota Canada Inc. The car helped drag Toyota to a remarkable February performance.

'The market is working just fine and consumers are embracing smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles in a very big way,' said DesRosiers, the president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. 'Why not just let the market continue to work?' he asked. 'Many of those driving larger vehicles are doing it because they have no choice. Tell a soccer mom to buy a new Toyota Yaris instead of a new Toyota Sienna minivan and they will tell you to take a hike,' he noted.

Richard Cooper, the executive director of the Canadian operations of consulting firm J.D. Power and Associates, said, 'Hybrid vehicles that combine electric motors with a traditional internal combustion engine are getting a lot of hype, but that is overblown. When it comes down to it, we buy small, fuel-efficient vehicles anyway.' Cooper noted, 'Ford, I think, is really suffering from the lack of a small, fuel-efficient vehicle, especially in this market.'