In the 'this is not news' department, Honda and Toyota are going to steal market share from General Motors and Ford. The only part of the story that changes is the date. This time the headline holds true for January 2007. Gas prices hit $2 per gallon in January, about 50% lower than in January 2006. That, combined with winter weather, would usually mean a spike in sales of SUVs and trucks, but at this point the American public seems to know better. The shift has been made, and fuel efficiency is winning the day for now in the grand old USA.

The main reason GM and Ford aren't selling at 2006 levels is that both companies are trying to rely less and less on fleet and mega-discount sales. Ford has cut production for the first half of 2007, which can largely be attributed to less fleets since both the Taurus and Freestar minivans have been canceled. The new Edge and MKX should ease some of the burden, but it'll take months before dealer lots are properly stocked with the hot new crossover. GM, meanwhile, is ramping up Silverado production as fast as it possibly can, but it will take a few months before all cab configurations are available.

With Americans pining for crossovers and smaller sedans, Honda and Toyota simply offer more choices. If you're looking for a small entry-level sedan from Ford, you have your choice of Focus. Toyota, on the other hand, has the Yaris, Corolla, and pick your Scion. Honda has the Civic and Fit. GM does have the Cobalt and Aveo, but neither vehicle approaches the sales volumes of the Asian counterparts. We think we'll see plenty of these headlines in 2007, so if you're tied to the domestic automakers in any way, you've been forewarned.

[Source: Detroit News]


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