Starting at $21,000, the new Prius I offers serious value - but it isn't available yetEnlarge Photo
Both Chrysler and Toyota are sharply cutting back their production, so it's a story of relative gain rather than absolute. Nevertheless, by building a planned 280,500 cars in Q1 2009, Toyota will outstrip Chrysler by over 20,000 units, reports Automotive News.
Those figures amount to a 31.8% decrease for Toyota and an even more dramatic 50.6% decrease for Chrysler. The differential in the cutbacks accounts for the flip-flop in rankings. Ford's 40.3% cutback slots between the two, and its 424,300 anticipated production beats General Motors 52.2% cutback to 419,100 vehicles by a fairly narrow margin.
Fellow Japanese carmakers Honda and Nissan have felt the pain of the global economic crunch too, dipping 34.9% and 30.8% in expected Q1 North American production, respectively.
The decline in fuel prices through the end of 2008 have hurt Toyota's - and the industry's - hybrid sales in particular. A brand-new Prius, launched at this year's Detroit Auto Show, hopes to turn that situation around by offering a new set of features, more power and more efficiency. Despite the optimism in the launch, the bleak outlook for 2009's sales figures may prove too strong to overcome.