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2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

2013 Model Year Gets Underway

The 2013-model year has arrived, amid personnel shakeouts to bolster profitability at U.S. automakers on a global scale.

It needs repeating. The focus on ‘product, product, product’ has given way to cries of ‘profit, profit, profit,’ a change faced by top executives in a market still gripped by sales problems and high operating costs keeping factory profit margins well below the targets demanded by directors and dealers.

Check out these “challenges!”

  • Ford finally bestows its COO post on Mark Fields as European sales fluff off the Lincoln and Ford brands.
  • Fields plans more global plant closings and employee retrenching to reach profitland overseas
  • ‘Chevy runs deep’ fizzles as an ad line, despite pellmell intros of new small Chevy cars Cruze, Spark and Sonic.
  • Chrysler’s four brands ebb in quality survey on reliability as it turns to digital tablets to help resolve dealer service problems (not a Marchionne priority)
  • Minivans hold key to Chrysler sustaining profits in U.S., but overseas losses sting Opel, Mitsubishi, Mazda, and Ford.
  • Toyota stays reliability champion, tops 2013-model debuts with Avalon Hybrid upgrades.
2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

Continuing to call the shots are Volkswagen, Honda and Toyota:

  • Honda confirms plans to expand Fit into a full body-style brand as it drives toward two million vehicle sales in fiscal 2017 in North America. (Being expanded: New plant in Mexico, enlarged engine and transmission plant in Ohio.)
  • VW clings to 1 million sales goal in North America by 2018, including its surging Audi brand; its 2012 total topped 600K for January-October including Audi.

Aforementioned Toyota leverages sweep as 2012 reliability champ. Toyota/Scion/Prius/Lexus collect 1.7 million U.S. sales in January-October time-frame. Toyota group overall spurts 30 percent from 2011 in U.S. New-model parade unabated at Toyota into 2014 model season.