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Old 12-09-2004, 07:41   #1 (permalink)
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US:Toyota Will Find Ford 'Formidable' in US

Toyota Will Find Ford 'Formidable' in US

The Auto Channel

DEARBORN, Michigan: Poornima Gupta writing for Reuters reported that Toyota Motor Corp., which recently outpaced Ford Motor Co. in global sales, will find the second-largest U.S. automaker a "formidable competitor" in the lucrative full-size pickup truck market, Ford's North American sales chief said on Wednesday.

"Just because Toyota comes in does not mean that they are going to beat us," Jim O'Connor told Reuters. "We have high owner loyalty, we have good quality, we have excellent functionality and we know our customer."

Toyota plans to open a new assembly plant late next year outside San Antonio, Texas, to build an all-new version of its Tundra pickup truck. The truck, that will be equipped with a powerful V-8 engine, is expected to steal sales from Ford's F-150 pickup truck, a best-seller that generates a large part of Ford's automotive profits.

To counter Toyota, Ford plans to freshen the F-Series trucks every two or three years, O'Connor said.

"We are the leader ... We don't want people messing with our turf," he added.

So far, Japanese automakers have made only modest inroads in the full-size pickup truck market. The new Titan pickup truck from Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. has not been able to dent Ford's F-150 sales yet.

U.S. sales of the Titan, launched in late January, totaled 75,643 vehicles year-to-date, substantially lower than Ford's F-Series sales of 844,119.

"In one month we will sell as many F-Series pickup trucks as Nissan will sell this year," O'Connor said.
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