• Jun 5, 2008
The Harbour Report released today reveals that the Big 3 gained major ground in closing the productivity gap with Japanese automakers building vehicles in North America last year. The report found that Chrysler had actually improved enough to tie Toyota as the most productive multi-plant manufacturer on the continent, with both automakers spending an average of 30.37 hours to build a vehicle. The most productive single plant in North America also belongs to Chrysler, as the once experimental Toledo Supplier Park takes just 13.57 labor hours to build a Jeep. For their parts, General Motors plants averaged 32.29 hours per vehicle and Ford plants averaged 33.88 hours per vehicle, both an improvement over last year's numbers.

The news was not all good, however, as the report found that despite improving their productivity, the Big 3 are still unable to match the Japanese in profit made per vehicle. While Honda and Nissan earned $1,641 per vehicle built in North American last year and Toyota earned $922, Chrysler lost $412 per vehicle and GM and Ford lost $729 and $1,467 per vehicle, respectively. Much of those losses come from high health care costs and profit-shrinking incentives required to move less popular vehicles like trucks and SUVs. The Harbour Report suggests, however, that employee buyouts and those new contracts with the UAW that get them off the hook for retiree health care will improve the Big 3's profit per vehicle dramatically.

Check out the lengthy press release from the Harbour Report after the jump if you're into digging through the nitty gritty details.

[Source: The Harbour Report]


Lean Improvements, Worker Buyouts Bring Detroit Three Productivity Closer to Asian Rivals, says Oliver Wyman's Harbour Report™ 2008

  • Gap between the most and least productive companies shrunk to 3.50 labor hours per vehicle.
  • Toyota and Chrysler led the six largest multi-plant North American automakers in total manufacturing productivity (assembly, stamping, engine and transmission), each averaged 30.37 labor hours to manufacture a vehicle.
  • New UAW contracts will further reduce the total labor cost gap between Detroit Three and competitors over the next three years.
  • Hyundai's Alabama plant posted a very competitive 20.62 assembly hours per vehicle in its first year participating in The Harbour Report™.

2008 Best Plant Awards for Labor Productivity
  • Vehicle Assembly -- Chrysler Toledo South
  • Stamping -- Toyota Georgetown
  • Engine -- Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA)
  • Transmission -- General Motors Toledo

DETROIT, June 5, 2008 – Driven by more consistent, leaner processes and buyouts of tens of thousands workers, the Detroit Three automakers in 2007 nearly erased the productivity deficit against their Japanese-based competitors, despite declining production and shrinking market share.
The difference among the Big Six from the most to least productive in terms of total manufacturing labor (Assembly, Stamping, Engine and Transmission) has dropped to 3.50 hours per vehicle (or about $260 per vehicle), down from 10.51 hours (or $790 per vehicle) in 2003.

Chrysler showed the biggest improvement, cutting its total manufacturing labor hours per vehicle by 7.7 to 33.88, despite producing 6 of their U.S. hourly workforce.

The lower-tier wage may lead Chrysler, Ford and GM to consider bringing the production of certain components and modules back into their assembly plants that have been out-sourced to suppliers who have paid their workers considerably less. How soon and how far any of the three bring work back in-house will depend on the number of high-seniority workers accept buyouts in the coming months.

In its first year in The Harbour Report™ North America, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama posted a very strong 20.62 assembly labor hours per vehicle at its Montgomery, Ala., plant that produces the Hyundai Sonata sedan and Santa Fe crossover. The plant's productivity on the Santa Fe (22.58 labor hours per vehicle) was best for plants building midsize crossover vehicles.

In overall productivity, four of the six companies with assembly, stamping and powertrain operations in
North America – GM, Honda, Chrysler and Ford – showed improvement in 2007.

Neither Honda nor Nissan participated in this year's report. The report does include assembly, engine and total manufacturing estimates for both companies based on publicly available data.

Among vehicle assembly plants, Chrysler's new Toledo plant, which assembles the Jeep Wrangler, set the individual plant benchmark for labor productivity with a measure of 13.57 hours per vehicle, followed by GM's Oshawa #1 plant that produces the Chevrolet Impala. Oshawa #1 posted a 15.18 HPV performance.

Chrysler's Toledo South plant features an innovative collaboration with three suppliers. Kuka Group manages the body shop. Magna Steyr manages the paint shop, and Hyundai Mobis handles chassis assembly for the Jeep Wrangler.

The Harbour Report™, the auto industry authority on manufacturing efficiency first published in 1989, measures assembly, stamping and powertrain productivity performances – plant by plant, and company by
company – for North American automotive manufacturers. The labor hours per vehicle measure calculates the total salary and hourly labor content required to produce one vehicle.

By comparison, automakers in North America, on balance, have become very competitive globally, only slightly behind Japan, but ahead of most other regions. Although labor costs remain high, the weak dollar and new labor agreements have made North America a more attractive region for manufacturing.

Despite their continuous improvement in plant-floor productivity, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors still use significantly less of their assembly capacity than Toyota and Honda. For example, Chrysler and GM each assembled 88, up from 77 and Honda's 97 of capacity and none running at more than 107 to 137 and 129 to 126%.

Other highlights from this year's Assembly, Stamping and Powertrain chapters include:


CAMI Automotive, which produces the Chevrolet Equinox, Pontiac Torrent and Suzuki XL-7 in Ingersoll, Ontario, achieved a 17.59 HPV and the New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) plant in Fremont, Calif., posted an impressive 18.96 HPV. These two companies lead all companies in North America.

Chrysler had four of the 10 most productive assembly plants: Toledo South (13.57 HPV for Jeep Wrangler); Belvidere (17.09 HPV for Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot); Jefferson North (18.68 HPV for Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Commander), and Brampton (18.78 HPV for Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Magnum).

GM's Oshawa #1 and #2 plants finished second and third, respectively at 15.18 and 16.17 HPV). GM makes the Chevrolet Impala in Oshawa #1 and the Buick LaCrosse and Allure (for the Canadian market) in Oshawa #2. GM's Lordstown, Ohio, plant (Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5) finished seventh at 18.12 HPV.

Toyota averaged 22.35 labor hours per vehicle across the five North American assembly plants included in this year's report, compared with 22.05 hours per vehicle in 2006.

GM led in 11 of the 20 vehicle segments in which it competes: midsize non-premium conventional car (Buick LaCrosse and Pontiac Grand Prix/Oshawa), midsize non-premium sports car (Chevrolet Monte Carlo/Oshawa #1), midsize non-premium van (Chevrolet Uplander, Pontiac Montana SV6, Saturn Relay and Buick Terraza/Doraville, Ga.), midsize premium conventional (Cadillac STS/Lansing Grand River); midsize premium sports car (Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac XLR/Bowling Green, Ky.); midsize premium utility (Saab 9-7X/Moraine, Ohio); large non-premium conventional (Chevrolet Impala/Oshawa #1) large non-premium utility (Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL/Arlington, Tex.); large non-premium van (Chevrolet Express, GMC Savana/Wentzville), large premium conventional (Cadillac DTS/Detroit-Hamtramck); large premium SUV (Cadillac Escalade/Arlington, Texas).

Ford led in five of 15 segments in which it competes: compact premium conventional car (Lincoln MKZ/Hermosillo, Mex.), mid-size non-premium pickup truck (Ford Ranger/Twin Cities), midsize premium CUV (Lincoln MKX/Oakville); large non-premium pickup (Ford F-150/Norfolk), large premium pickup (Lincoln Mark LT/Dearborn), premium van (Chevrolet Express, GMC Savana/Wentzville), large premium conventional (Cadillac DTS/Detroit-Hamtramck); large premium SUV (Cadillac Escalade/Arlington, Texas).

Chrysler led in four of 12 segments in which it competes: compact non-premium conventional car (Dodge Caliber/Belvidere), compact non-premium CUV (Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot/Belvidere); compact non-premium utility (Jeep Wrangler/Toledo South), and mid-size non-premium SUV (Jeep Grand Cherokee/Jefferson North).

Harbour estimates show Honda remains very competitive. However, Nissan's performance suffered due to a drop in truck and minivan production at its Canton, Miss., plant.

Harbour uses a stamping index that weighs several labor and equipment measures to create a composite score of stamping productivity. On that basis, Toyota's Georgetown, Ky., press shop ranked first, followed
by Toyota Cambridge, Ont. and Chrysler Belvidere. Of the 10 best stamping plants, Toyota had three;
Chrysler and General Motors, two; and Ford, Hyundai and NUMMI, one each.

"In 2007 Toyota was the best stamper, on balance, in the industry," said Harbour. "It is not a matter of spending more than competitors. It reflects regular kaizen improvement activities and the flexibility that comes with well coordinated engineering and manufacturing."

Four of the six largest companies improved engine productivity when comparing plants that were included in last year's report. Toyota still led the field at 3.13 HPE. Chrysler finished second at 3.35 HPE while GM was a close third at 3.44 HPE.

Chrysler's Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance plant in Dundee, Mich., turned in the best performance by an engine plant at 1.84 hours per engine, beating GM's Spring Hill, Tenn. plant (2.53 HPE).

Toyota's Georgetown, Ky. Engine plant finished a respectable third with 2.60 hours per engine, and its Buffalo, W.Va., plant was fourth at 2.66 HPE. GM had five engine plants in the top 10.

Chrysler maintained the lead it assumed last year over GM and Ford in transmission productivity, improving to 3.36 HPT from 3.39, while Ford came in at 3.62 and GM came in at 3.68 HPT. For the third time in the last five years GM's Toledo plant led all plants producing rear-wheel drive transmissions (2.37 hours per transmission) and was the No. 1 plant overall. Chrysler Kokomo had the best productivity measure among producers of front-wheel-drive transmissions (A604 line) at 3.51 HPT.

More than just year-over-year performance, Oliver Wyman's Harbour Report™ looks at several years of results to determine which companies are developing systems and processes related to quality, lean manufacturing, continuous improvement, worker involvement, technology, level of product complexity, process design and layout.

"Lean manufacturing and continuous improvement efforts do not always produce immediate improvements, nor are they immediately recognizable," said Ron Harbour. "But as shown in The Harbour Report™ 2008 results, companies that are producing consistent, sustainable improvements to their manufacturing operations are providing automakers with a cost advantage over their rivals."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      the big 3 are still burying themselves into a hole they will not be able to climb out of.....

      we want Lee Iacoca (sp) back...............

      Maybe he can do something about it again!!!!!!!!!!!!

      He knew what to build and how to build it for the people!!!!!!!!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hey, I'm sure I can put a car together in a day in my garage... don't mean it will run.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wow, I'm surprised it takes 13.7 hours to build a Jeep. I figured they could pump one of those suckers out in under an hour. Maybe they've got to let the paint dry.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Those little Japs are mutants, I tell you.

      I admire them....
        • 6 Years Ago
        No. They simply don't carry the financial burden of an aged retiree pool with fantastic benefits.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Austin - What does that have to do with japanese cars built in NORTH AMERICA?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Buzzz... wrong, Japan has universal health care. It is semi-privatized but everyone has to buy into it unless they can afford fully private.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's one thing to put cars together quickly, and another to put cars together quickly that won't fall apart just as fast.
        • 6 Years Ago
        ... sorry, towards the end: I meant "decent variable in the numerator"
        • 6 Years Ago
        Speed often does come at the cost of quality.

        You folks have a bad memory -- Toyota took a huge quality hit by producing cars too fast. They even made a public apology for it.

        At the time, some people might have made the argument that Toyota was focussing too much on beating GM in the number of cars produced game.

        Toyota also had a profit drop because of it -- they build more cars but made less money overall.

        What is interesting is that Honda and Nissan appear to be doing this better then both these companies.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The work done by these researchers is flawed and the conclusions are misleading. There are many ways to calculate productivity and they choose the one which serves the news headline.

        National statistical agencies don't look at the "manufacturing labor hours per vehicle". "Vehicles" have different degrees of complexity (even in the same class), you need to compare apples with apples. So they look at the "labor hours per value added", for example. The authors should have looked at manufacturing labour hours per net income (or some other decent variable in the denominator) and the conclusion would have been a bit different (read: no "Big3" company represented).

        Oh well, Chrysler has somenthing to be proud of now...
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm beginning to wonder if we should pay them to NOT make cars in the US.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Remember how quickly they were able to assemble cars in the film "Gung Ho" when they let out unimportant things like motors and lug nuts?
      • 6 Years Ago
      For all the complaints about Chrysler interior/quality problems, I love my Dodge.

      It is a rock solid chassis without a single rattle or vibration in the entire vehicle.
      • 6 Years Ago
      To all those who commented about the JD Powers initial quality survey:

      1.) It's initial quality - which everyone seems to agree is not as important as long term reliability. And the problems reported could be minor - a noise, or a misalignment. I mean, it's not like the camshafts are snapping!

      2.) The survey does not go into specific models. What if the Wrangler is good in initial quality but it's the Grand Cherokee or the Compass that has all the problems? We just don't know.

      So don't assume Chrysler is assembling Wanglers together too fast because of what an initial quality survey says about the entire Jeep brand. More info is needed. Fair enough?

      By the way, congrats Chrysler. Toledo supplier park broke new ground in the way that the manufacturer, suppliers, and the union, who's Local had to approve work rule changes, all work together to produce a vehicle. Hopefully this will spread and generate new ideas.
      • 6 Years Ago
      All you people that took the time to comment and ridicule Chrysler for tying Toyota, face the facts. The imports aren't as good as you think they are and the big 3 aren't as bad as you think they are. So if you still want to swear by your Toyota or Honda go move to Japan, because here in North America we know you are full of bull***t.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Not taking away from the quality of interiors in most Chrysler products, the vehicle mentioned here with half the assembly time of anything else is the Wrangler- wow, are these cheap. The (exposed) door hinges are painted on. This means you cant adjust the (poorly fitting) doors w/o repainting the door skins.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Does anybody REALLY know what they are doing anymore?
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