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Senior automotive industry analyst Paul Raman, CFA, recently returned from the San Diego Auto Show, had these comments to make about Toyota Motors ( TM - Analyst Report ) , Honda Motor Company ( HMC - Analyst Report ) , Nissan Motors ( NSANY ) and others.
Most -- if not all -- automakers are keeping an eye on joint venture and/or buyout opportunities within the industry in 2009. Also pending in the early part of the year is the question of a further auto industry bailout by the U.S. Federal government, though this concerns the American Big Three, not the Japanese automakers.
Yaris - Sales are up 27% for this car that gets 32 MPG and has a 4 star crash rating with a economical price of $16K. There is not enough leg room and a strange dashboard. The interior needs a major upgrade.
Tundra - Sales are down 25% for this pickup with 15 MPG. Crash protection is only 3/4 stars, and the price is high, at $30-40K. The interior is nice, but the pickup is tough to get into.
Tacoma - Sales are down 14% for this pickup that gets 19 MPG. Crash protection is 4/5 stars, and the price is in the high 20s. The interior needs a major upgrade.
Highlander - Sales are down 12%. Mileage is 20 MPG, with a price in the low $30s. The interior is nice. There is a hybrid version that gets 26 MPG yet costs $47K.
Prius - Sales are down 5% for this hybrid that gets 47 MPG. The price is $25K and there is 4/5-star crash protection. There is not enough leg room and this car has a strange dashboard.
Camry - Sales are down 3% for this car that gets 25 MPG and costs $25-30K. The car has a nice interior and 4/5-star crash protection. There is a hybrid version that gets 34 MPG and costs $32K.
Sienna - Sales are down 11% for this van that gets 19 MPG. There is 4/5-star crash protection and the cost is high at $30-40K. The interior needs an upgrade.
Land Cruiser - Sales are down 12% for this large SUV that gets 16 MPG yet has a price tag over $70K. The interior is nice.
RAV4 - sales are down 19% for this crossover that gets 23 MPG. There is not enough legroom in this retro interior. The cost is $25-30K with 4/5-star crash protection.
Corolla - Sales are down 4% for this car that gets 31 MPG and has 4/5-star protection. The interior needs an upgrade, but the price is $22K. There is not enough leg room.
Models that should be discontinued - Venza, 4Runner, FT Cruiser, Avalon
Owned by Toyota.
RX350 - Sales are down 18% for this crossover with 20 MPG that has 4/5-star safety yet costs $47K. The crossover is stylistic with a futuristic interior.
Models that should be consolidated - IS 250 and GS350 and IS350; ES350 and LS460; LX570 and GX470;
Models that should be discontinued - RX400; RX450
Owned by Toyota.
Models that should be consolidated - XD and XB
Mazda 3 - Sales are down 6% for this sporty hatchback that gets 25 MPG and is 95% Japan sourced. The cost is $20-25K and there is 4-star safety. The interior is retro-designed. Emissions are 40% lower than the average car.
Mazda 6 - Sales are down 6% for this stylish car with a retro interior. 45% is from the US and 30% is from Japan. There is 5-star safety and the cost is $33K. Emissions are average, and mileage is 21 MPG.
Models that should be consolidated - CX9 and CX7 and Mazda 5
Models that should be consolidated - XL7 and Grand Vitara
This company is owned by Fuji Heavy Industries.
Overall, this product line has an SUV focus, but vehicles have too much plastic, in our opinion.
Models that should be discontinued - Impreza.
Altima - Sales are up 2%. Gas mileage is excellent, in the 23-24 MPG range. Prices range from $22-27K. The car has 55% US content and 21% Japanese content. Overall, the interior could use some improvement, and there appeared to be not enough leg room. There is a hybrid version that costs $30K and gets 34 MPG.
Rogue - This is a hot-selling crossover that gets 25 MPG with 4/5 star safety and a $27K price tag. There is 100% Japanese content.
Versa - Sales are up 13%. This hatchback gets 28 MPG and has 4 star safety. The price is low, at 18K. There is 12% US, 34% Japan and 42% Mexico content. Overall, there is not much room and the interior needs improvement.
Murano - Sales are off 10%, but this a 21 MPG vehicle that has 4/5 star safety and a nice interior. It is a crossover and has 100% Japanese content. This vehicle is rather pricey, ranging from $29K-41K.
Models that should be discontinued - Maxima.
Models that should be consolidated - Pathfinder with Armada with XTerra; Frontier with Titan
This company is owned by Nissan.
In general, we feel these vehicles have low gas mileage, are expensive, and the interiors need improvement.
Models that should be consolidated - G37S with M45; FX35 with EX35
Accord - Sales are up 2% for this car that gets 25 MPG. There is 4/5 star safety and 65% US content/20% Japan content. The price is $25-30K, and the interior is nice and sporty. This car has one of the best smog emissions ratios.
Civic - Sales are up 10% for this sporty car that gets 31 MPG with a nice interior. There is 4/5 star safety, and the price is $18-24K. There is 60% US and 30% Japanese content. Smog emission levels are excellent. There is a natural gas version and a hybrid version that gets 42 MPG and costs $24K.
Fit - This is a hot-selling crossover that gets 30 MPG and has 4/5 star safety. The cost is $19K. Smog emissions are 25% below average. The interior is futuristic and 100% of content is from Japan.
CRV - Sales are down 7% for this crossover. The interior needs improvement. Smog emissions are average, and there is 23 MPG and the price is $25K. There is 4/5 star safety and 50% US content and 35% Japanese content.
Pilot - Sales are down 17% for this SUV. The interior needs improvement and there is not enough leg room. Gas mileage is 20 MPG with average smog emissions. There is 4/5 star safety and the price is $28-34K. There is 70% US content.
Odyssey - Sales are down 16% for this van that has 21 MPG. The interior is nice, but there is not enough legroom. The price is $34-41K. There is 4/5 star safety and 80% US content. Smog emissions are average.
Models that should be discontinued - S2000, Element
This company is owned by Honda.
Overall, we feel this line is overpriced and interiors need improvement.
Models that should be consolidated - TSX with RL with TL; RDX with MDX
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