Honda could leapfrog Chrysler in North American production, sales

The ailing American automaker is not likely to be able to stave off Honda's ascent

The ailing American automaker is not likely to be able to stave off Honda's ascent

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With almost all of its plants shuttered through the bankruptcy period and faith in the company at an all-time low, Chrysler is soon to be passed in both North American production and sales by Honda.

The Japanese #2 carmaker has already cut the gap to Chrysler's production figures to 17,011 vehicles according to Bloomberg. That's down from a 236,645 vehicle deficit a year earlier. With sales not swinging upward nearly that much at Honda, it's Chrysler's faltering, not Honda's rise, that's to blame.

Effectively there's no difference, however, as Honda is preparing to take up fourth place in production and sales behind Toyota, General Motors and Ford. Analysts are calling the bankruptcy of Chrysler a 'catalyst' for changes that were already slowly taking place, even before the market downturn began last year.

Already Honda has outsold Chrysler through April, beating the Detroit carmaker by about 8,000 vehicles to sell 332,014. That's a 32% drop-off from 2008, but its more than enough to beat Chrysler's 46% fall to 323,890.

The trend is expected to keep going until by 2011, Asian and European car companies will be able to produce more cars in the U.S. than American companies.

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