The CSM Automotive Production Barometer for February 2006 and full-year release schedule are currently available via the CSM Worldwide website: http://www.csmauto.com/auto-production-barometer.
Following a better-than-expected sales month in January, production in the United States remained flat, equaling the 11.48M units produced last year on a seasonally adjusted rate. Trucks continue to out-produce cars in the United States, 6.95M units versus 4.54M units on a seasonally adjusted basis. Actual U.S. production for the month totaled over 900,000 units, an increase of just 0.1% over January 2005 output. North American output totaled 16.16M units on a seasonally adjusted rate, a 5.2% increase over last year's rate.
The results aren't as strong as the numbers suggest, as they follow a weak January last year. A number of factors were at work this January, such as model changeovers and retooling, additional plant downtime, and reduced overtime following a strong 4Q 2005 build period that effectively pulled ahead vehicle production. The traditional Big Three manufacturers continue to experience significant downtime through 1Q 2006 to adjust for demand and retooling with GM idling their Lansing Craft Center and Oklahoma City plants and Ford idling St. Louis this quarter. Output of GM's all-important and profitable GMT900-based SUVs is progressing better than expected. The Chrysler Group added downtime as an inventory adjustment for several vehicles and is currently launching the new Dodge Caliber.
Total New Six output accounted for 15.12M units on a seasonally adjusted basis or 93.5% of North American output in January, a decline from a 95.4% share last year. This trend is expected to continue as Hyundai makes a greater impact on production in the region. Big Three production in North America accounted for 10.91M units on a seasonally adjusted basis with the New Domestics, Toyota, Honda and Nissan, accounting for 4.21M units. On a share basis, this equates to 72.2% versus 27.8% between the Big Three and the New Domestics.
All but Ford and Nissan recorded higher production rates in January versus last year, down 11.1% and 5.9%, respectively. Ford is afflicted with significant downtime as demand across a wide range of its product portfolio remains weak. In addition, little overtime is being utilized, with its core F-Series models experiencing production slowdowns following a strong 4Q 2005. GM managed a seasonally adjusted 11.4% increase in North American production, though most of this is attributable to a weak January last year when it experienced double the amount of downtime.
The production environment is not expected to change much in February, with continued downtime and retooling scheduled at the Big Three manufacturers and the New Domestics continuing their march forward. North American production is expected to remain flat in 2006 at 15.78M units.
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