• Jun 2, 2006
The 2006 edition of the Harbour Report - a benchmarking study of U.S. automobile manufacturing - shows Nissan had the industry's most efficient North American manufacturing operation in 2005, followed (in order) by Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Chrysler Group and Ford. On average, Nissan facilities required 28.46 labor hours to produce a vehicle, while Ford clocked in at 35.82 hours. The results show U.S. automakers are closing the gap, but still have room to improve.
The report estimates that Nissan's more efficient production gives the company a $450 per car cost advantage over less efficient competitors.

Looking at capacity utilization, Ford's plants ran at 79 percent of their potential, compared to front-running Toyota, Nissan and DaimlerChrysler at between 94 percent and 106 percent.

Looking at the bottom line, GM ranks, umm, at the bottom, having lost a whopping $2,496 on every vehicle (on average) sold in North America in 2005. Ford lost $590, while Chrysler made $223 in pre-tax profit per vehicle. Their Japanese competitors cleared (on average) more than $1,200 on every vehicle sold.

[Source: Reuters]


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  • 16 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is the problem that VW is running into...lack of efficiency.

      Hopefully they fix it soon. In the meantime, I'll enjoy my GTI Mk 5, produced with too many man hours and too-expensive materials. Win for me!
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree with J--most foreign cars actually win through LACK of innovation;in other words, most of their flag ship models use very similar dimensions and running gear with few changes. How different really is an given Honda from the previous year or the year before that?? For good or bad, American and now European cars seem to suffer from too many changes year over year and too much reliance on new parts from their suppliers.
      • 8 Years Ago
      i seem to remember that nissan excluded their canton, ms plant last year because of various issues related to opening a new plant. the article doesnt seem to mention whether or not that plant is included this year, but it seems that would most certainly affect their top ranking.

      i'm pretty sure participation in this is voluntary. nissan was consistently among the top 2 or 3 in efficiency even when they were losing money, so i'm willing to bet they dont want to lose their bragging rights to honda or toyota by including the new plant.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The efficient companies have newer factories. Better buildings mean better production lines can be set up, translating into greater efficiencies.

      But GM and Ford don't have the money to pump into facilities because their money goes into covering the insurance benefits of employees.

      I'm assuming that the workforces at Honda, Toyota and Nissan in the US are much younger than their UAW brethren. That translates into lower costs for insurance.

      American assembly plants with older workers will always be at a disadvantage because of the high costs of American health care. This isn't a GM vs Toyota issue. Eventually, Toyota's workforce will have greater seniority and more health care costs, too. They will then have older factories as well...

      This isn't just happenning in the auto world. It's everywhere. When will corporations wake up and realise they stand to benefit from standardized insurance plans? A standard system where employers and employees all pay into the same huge insurance programs, taking advantage of the efficiency of standardization of paperwork, is the way to go.

      There will be no assembly plants (Big Three or otherwise) in the US someday if we don't fix this. Who will be able to afford to buy the cars then? WalMart employees?

      • 8 Years Ago
      Steve said: "The efficient companies have newer factories. Better buildings mean better production lines can be set up, translating into greater efficiencies." He is totally correct.

      The efficiency numbers are up because GM, Ford and Chrysler are replacing and rebuilding all their plants. As this happens, efficiency will keep rising. As will quality. They have spent billions upon billions of dollars to do this.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #8 - "The efficient companies have newer factories." The Nissan Smyrna plant opened in the early 1980s. I would bet at least 12-15 domestic plants are newer. Try again, homie.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Union or not has nothing to do with this. Japanese trans-plants ARE newer on average, which means more robots, less labor, and more flexibility. A plant must be close to capacity to be towards the top of this list. This is why Toyota, Honda, and Nissan have been towards the top of the list for awhile.
      Nissan has paid a price for this with their quality, plus they don't included their 2 Mexico plants that use a lot more labor.
      Most people have no idea how these are figured, like compensation varies from North to South, or using alot more foreign vendors that build more of the car, or use more temporary workers like the trans-plants do. Canadian plants do well because of national health care.
      • 8 Years Ago
      >>>#5. How different really is an given Honda from the previous year or the year before that??

      Take a look at the 2006 Civic versus the '05 Einstein. The difference is obvious to anyone with half a brain. Now take a look at the '05 Cavalier versus the '95. It took GM a full DECADE before the Cobalt was introduced. History says the '06 Cobalt should still be on sale - unchanged - in 2016. How's that for ya, Kev?
      • 8 Years Ago
      "1. wouldn't this be pretty subjective as Ford/GM make a lot more SUVs and larger trucks which are complicated and thus take more time."

      -Are SUV's complicated?! I always thought some might be but really they are just like cargo vans with seats and carpet. Plus if any two (2) companies should know how to build a friggen SUV efficiently wouldn’t ya think it would be GM/Ford?
      • 8 Years Ago
      1995-2005 Chevy Cavalier (never changed)
      WAS BETTER BEFORE
      1997-CURRENT Chevy Venture/Uplander (never changed)
      2005 - NOW EVEN UGLIER
      1997-2004 Chevy Malibu (never chaged a thing)
      SHOULD HAVE - SERVICE DEPARTMENTS MADE A KILLING
      2000-Current Ford Focus (nothings changing)
      SHOULD HAVE SOONER - COMPLETE REFIT IN 2005
      1988-2005 Chevy Astro (just look that thing came out when I was 7 years old and it is still the same, the same year I turned 24)
      JUST DIE ALREADY - SERVICE MAKES EVEN MORE MONEY
      1988-1999 Chevy Silverado, Nothing changed, and some would think nothing really ever has changed (not that it needs to)
      SHOULD HAVE - BUT MANY DUMB PEOPLE STILL BOUGHT THEM
      1985-1996 Oldsmobile Cutlass-Never really changed
      SHOULD HAVE - MIGHT STILL BE A BRAND
      1982-1994- Chevy Cavalier, Nothing substantial
      WAS BETTER THAN REPLACEMENT
      1981-1990 Ford Escort, Nothing
      1988 - MAJOR REFIT TO EUOPEAN ESCORT
      • 8 Years Ago
      wouldn't this be pretty subjective as Ford/GM make a lot more SUVs and larger trucks which are complicated and thus take more time.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I personally think the important part of this story is being ignored.

      Look at the second half of the headline.

      GM and Ford still cannot make money on cars produced in North America.

      I have a sneaking suspicion that GM is going to "let" the UAW walk out in 2007, which will make the UAW look like the bad guys (in reality, both parties are). Then GM will simply import GMDaewoo products from South Korea, badged as Chevrolets; Opel products from Spain, badged as Saturns; Canadian and Mexican built SUVs and pickups (including the Suzuki supplied Equinox out of Canada); and continue marketing the Pontiac Vibe (aka Toyota Matrix). Then, they'll import Buicks and Cadillacs from red China.

      Poof, instant profitability. Of course, southern Michigan and the midwest will sink without trace.

      Plus, GMDaewoo will suddenly stop being able to supply Suzuki USA with several car lines since they'll be shipped with Chevrolet badges, but hey, GM never cared one iota for any of their suppliers, so why start now?

      Then, Ford Motor Company will simply - drop dead.

      Ironic that The Truth About Cars keeps a Deathwatch on GM when it may be that GM sort-of survives, wheras Ford may be kaput by '07.

      Of course GM's market penetration in the US will be about 10% instead of what it is now. But, the stockholders will be making money! Naturally, we taxpayers will pick up the pieces, and carry the jettisoned US workforce on welfare for a decade.

      Remember, "GM isn't in the business of making cars, but money." (Alfred Sloan, GM President from the 1930's to 1950's).
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