Automaker Report

Several automakers have announced upcoming plans to introduce new models and cut costs.

Toyota Recalls One Million Vehicles
Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it is recalling approximately one million vehicles around the globe to replace faulty parts that could cause drivers to lose control of the steering wheel. The recall affects about 10 different models, including the Prius hybrid car.

In the United States, Toyota is recalling approximately 170,000 Prius models due to problems with the steering shaft assembly.

Toyota said there have been no reported crashes or injuries connected to the problem in the U.S.
In Japan, the recall involves a total of 565,756 vehicles manufactured under the Wish, Isis, Prius, Corolla, Corolla Runx, Corolla Fielder, Corolla Spacio, Allex and Ractis brands between September 2002 and November 2005, according to the statement.

A Toyota spokesman said the recall includes about 240,000 vehicles in Europe, and an additional 10,000 vehicles were being recalled in other parts of the world, including China and New Zealand.

China to Cut Car Production and Promote Chinese Brands
China will soon impose new controls to cut auto production overcapacity and promote Chinese brands amid a surge in foreign investment. It didn't say specifically when the policy would take effect.

Under the new measures, sales must reach 80% of their manufacturing capacity before the companies can build new factories.

China has the world's fastest-growing auto market, and will likely soon surpass Japan to become the world's second largest vehicle market, which has prompted a rush of investment by U.S., European and Asian automakers in new Chinese factories.

Malaysia's Proton to Introduce New Models
Malaysia's national carmaker, Proton, has announced it is pursuing talks with France's PSA Peugeot Citroen and plans to introduce six new models by 2008. The company has reported sharply lower profit for its most recent fiscal year.

Proton posted better-than-expected net profit of $35 million in the three months to March, reversing a revised loss of $17.8 million in the same period a year earlier. That marks a higher than market expectation, but lower than its net profit of $89 million in the previous quarter.

Proton plans to introduce six new models by 2008, including a compact Satria replacement due for launch in June and a possible new model by August.

In a statement, Proton warned sales and profit in the 2006 fiscal year would continue to come under pressure. The company also plans to tap large consumer markets in China, India and Southeast Asia to boost sales and raise exports to 100,000 cars by 2008.

Delphi Plans to Cut $450 Million in Costs
Auto parts maker Delphi Corp. told a U.S. bankruptcy court yesterday it planned to cut sales and administrative expenses by $450 million per year and won approval to hire a consulting firm to guide that element of its restructuring. Judge Robert Drain approved a Delphi request to hire Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. to help Delphi cut its administrative costs in three phases.

Delphi, which filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. automotive history, is in the midst of reorganization, including negotiations with its union. The auto parts maker has said it must slash wages, benefits and jobs to reorganize its struggling U.S. operations.

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