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FT中文网-丰田在北美“刹车”

(2008-10-13 11:24:36)
标签:

汽车

分类: 兴趣

丰田在北美“刹车”

作者:英国《金融时报》伯纳德•西蒙(Bernard Simon) 2008-10-09

丰田(Toyota)宣布为旗下多数美国车型提供免息贷款,这一前所未有的举措表明,这家日本汽车制造商在北美受人尊敬一项准则或许很快将面临危险。

自1984年与通用汽车(General Motors)合作建立第一条北美生产线以来,丰田在北美大陆上还从未解雇过一名员工。

事实上,丰田一直在为得克萨斯州和印第安纳州两家目前停产工厂的4000名工人支付全额工资和福利。鉴于低迷的消费者需求,Tundra皮卡和Sequoia运动性多功能车(SUV)已停产3个月。

FT中文网-丰田在北美“刹车”

不过,美国汽车市场的大幅滑坡让人们怀疑:丰田距离裁员和让工人提前退休还有多久?过去4年间,这已成为底特律其他竞争对手的一种生活方式。

8月份,日产(Nissan)对其田纳西州工厂的1200名工人采取了一系列此类举措。

丰田上月在美销量较2007年9月下降32%。这很大程度上是由于Tundra销量下滑了59%。

咨询公司环球通视(Global Insight)生产分析师海格•斯托达德(Haig Stoddard)表示:“现在或许到了放缓生产的关键时刻。时机可能会在明年上半年成熟。”

Autodata的数据显示,截至9月底,丰田手头有67天的库存供应量。这一表现要好于福特(Ford)( 97天)和克莱斯勒(Chrysler) (85天)。

但这远远高于丰田通常保持的35天至45天的水平。2007年9月,其库存量为36天。

丰田在北美制造的所有车型中,仅有两款未纳入上周宣布的免息贷款政策。RAV4酷越车定于12月在安大略伍德斯托克附近的一家新厂投产。

汽车厂的固定成本很高。低息贷款、打折和其它激励手段是底特律汽车制造商一向青睐的手段,以维持生产线运转,寄希望于需求能够回升。

一些分析师将丰田在得克萨斯州和印第安纳州工厂的举措比作通用汽车、福特和克莱斯勒在上世纪80年代末创立的“就业银行”计划(Jobs Bank)。根据该计划,无所事事的工人只要每天到工厂露个脸,就能享受全额工资和福利。

目前,丰田一直通过培训和工厂改进让工人们保持忙碌。培训将有助于提高丰田在全球各工厂引入标准化工序的速度——例如安装挡风玻璃和检查漆面抛光。

丰田表示:“我们将这视作一项投资。”不过该公司补充称:“这是一种昂贵的做法。”

丰田已采取了其它措施,在不裁员的情况下调整产出。

在可预见的未来,安大略的RAV4新厂将投入一半的产能。改厂已减少了加班,一些现有工厂的生产线也有所减速。

密西西比州的一座在建工厂正转为生产普瑞斯(Prius)小型油电混合型车,而不是原本计划生产的汉兰达(Highlander)运动性多功能车——这种车型的销售较为缓慢。

丰田表示:“我们所做的正是自己所想的。”

Tundra与Sequoia将于下月恢复生产,丰田表示:“生产提速将很缓慢,我们还要看市场走向如何。”

丰田根据销售数据,每天都要对生产日程加以审核,该公司在中国等其它地区的生产已经放缓。

译者/陈云飞

 

Weak sales force Toyota to apply brakes on US output

By Bernard Simon 2008-10-09 

Toyota's unprecedented offer of interest-free financing on most of its US models suggests that a hallowed principle of the Japanese carmaker's North American operations may soon be in jeopardy.

Since building its first North American plant in collaboration with General Motors in 1984, Toyota has not made a single worker redundant on the continent.

Indeed, it is paying full wages and benefits to 4,000 workers currently idle at two plants in Texas and Indiana where production of the Tundra pick-up truck and Sequoia sports utility vehicle has been halted for three months in response to weak consumer demand.

But the steep downturn in the US automotive market raises the question of how long Toyota can avoid the severance packages and early retirement deals that have become a way of life for its Detroit-based rivals over the past four years.

Nissan offered a series of such packages to 1,200 workers at two of its Tennessee plants in August.

Toyota's US sales plunged by 32 per cent last month compared with September 2007. Much of the decline was due to a 59 per cent slide in Tundra sales.

“It may get to the crunch point where they have to slow down assembly plants,” says Haig Stoddard, production analyst at Global Insight, a consultancy. “It may come to a head in the first half of next year.”

According to Autodata, Toyota had 67 days supply of inventory on hand at the end of September. That compares favourably with Ford, which had 97 days supply on hand, and Chrysler, with 85 days.

But it is far above the 35-45 day level that Toyota normally carries. Its inventory stood at 36 days supply in September 2007.

The interest-free financing deals announced last week cover all but two of the models that Toyota builds in North America. Production of the RAV4 crossover vehicle is due to start in December at a new plant near Woodstock, Ontario.

Car plants have high fixed costs. Low-interest financing, discounts and other incentives are tools long favoured by the Detroit carmakers to keep the lines running in the hope that demand will bounce back.

Some analysts have compared Toyota's actions at the Texas and Indiana plants to the “Jobs Bank” set up by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler in the late 1980s under which idled workers drew full pay and benefits just for showing up at the plant each day.

Toyota has so far kept its workers busy with training and plant improvements. The training will help speed up the introduction of standardised processes – for instance, to install windscreens and inspect paint finishes – at Toyota plants throughout the world.

“We look it as an investment,” says Toyota although it adds: “It's not an inexpensive proposition.”

Toyota has already taken other steps to adjust output without job losses.

The new RAV4 plant in Ontario will operate at half-capacity for the foreseeable future. Overtime has been cut and assembly lines slowed at some existing plants.

A factory under construction in Mississippi is being converted to build the Prius hybrid hatchback instead of the slower-selling Highlander sports utility vehicle for which it was originally intended.

“We don't have any changes in mind beyond what we've already done,” says Toyota.

Tundra and Sequoia production is due to start again next month, and Toyota says: “It will be a slow ramp up and we'll just have to see where the market takes us.”

Production schedules for the carmaker, which has slowed production elsewhere such as China, are reviewed daily based on sales data.

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