Better Sell More
Land Mines To Africa
AP 'reports' below.
Again, with the usuall failure
to note that SUVs require huge
quantities of resources.
And, that the West deliberatly destabilizes places like
Africa to keep the price of those resources down.
April 20 1:05 AM ET
Toyota, Acura Show Off SUVs in NYC
By JUSTIN HYDE, AP Auto Writer NEW YORK (AP) -
The American drivers who keep buying pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles in record numbers have become a major source of revenue for U.S. automakers.
Now foreign automakers want a larger share of those buyers.
Toyota and Honda's Acura luxury division showed off new SUVs Wednesday at press previews for the New York International Auto Show, which opens to the public Saturday. Nissan announced plans for a new full-size pickup that could spawn a full-size SUV.
But officials with General Motors Corp. (NYSE:GM - news) and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F - news) said they were confident they could hold onto their truck customers.
Toyota took the wraps off a new midsize SUV, the Toyota Highlander, that shares parts with the Toyota Camry. The Highlander is a midsize SUV with a 220-horsepower V6 and a base price between $20,000 and $26,000. It will compete in a crowded field with the Ford Explorer and Jeep Cherokee.
Toyota also showed off a restyled version of its RAV4 small SUV with a new engine. The company hopes to sell about 75,000 of each SUV once production is up to full speed and will be available later this year in the United States.
The Highlander, which goes on sale next year, will be the fifth SUV model that Toyota offers to U.S. buyers; its Lexus division sells two others, including the highly popular RX 300.
Don Esmond, general manager of Toyota's U.S. sales arm, said about 40 percent of Toyota's U.S. sales are trucks, while the industry as a whole has a 50-50 split between cars and trucks.
``We see that 10 percent gap as a prime opportunity for growth,'' he said.
Acura introduced its MDX sport utility, similar to a prototype version it showed at the Detroit auto show. The MDX will compete squarely against the Lexus RX 300 and other luxury SUVs, but aim to win buyers with a third row of seats and a few more features.
Acura said the MDX will meet ultra low emissions vehicle standards, and will get better mileage than other SUVs - up to 23 miles per gallon on the highway. The company also said it will achieve the highest level of crash protection ratings for passengers in all three rows of seating.
The MDX will be powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with 240 horsepower tied to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Acura said the MDX will carry a sticker price around $35,000; the company expects to build between 35,000 and 40,000 at its plant in Alliston, Ontario, Canada. It is expected to go on sale this fall.
Nissan president Carlos Ghosn said the company approved last week a new full-size truck for the U.S. market. He said the truck would be powered by a new V8 engine, would likely be built in the United States and would be the basis for other models, though an appearance on the market is still years away. Automakers often build SUVs off their full-size trucks.
Truck sales have been the strongest part of a robust market for new vehicles in the United States, growing faster than car sales in the past few years. While consumers want more room and power, automakers are happy to oblige; trucks carry higher profit margins than cars, although there has been a recent increase in incentives and discounts on some models.
Ford CEO Jac Nasser said the new models would likely not hurt Ford's truck sales.
``In most cases, they're late'' to market, Nasser said. ``We think they're playing a game we're very strong in.''
Ron Zarella, GM's North American president, said the auto manufacturer was confident its truck sales would remain strong for the foreseeable future. He said the company had upped its production quotas of full-size trucks to 1.7 million, and that GM would likely make more trucks than cars this year for the first time.
GM showed off upscale versions of its GMC Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs and Sierra pickup. The Denali editions of the SUVs will come with a more powerful V8, larger wheels and a different grille. Similar additions will be offered in the Sierra C-Series.
The company declined to name prices for the vehicles, though all will be available later this year.
In other announcements Wednesday:
- Toyota said it would sell about 12,000 copies of its Prius gas-electric hybrid sedan in the next year. The Prius uses an electric motor and battery pack to boost mileage to about 50 mpg. Esmond said the Prius would cost $20,415 when it goes on sale. Early copies will be limited to dealer demonstration models. Toyota will take early orders over the Internet, and use those to determine where to send models.
- Nissan unveiled the 2002 version of the Infiniti Q45, the flagship sedan for the company's luxury division. The Q45, which goes on sale next April, has a tiny video camera mounted on the trunk that turns on when the car is put into reverse. The images are transmitted to a screen in the dashboard. The current model costs about $48,000.