Archive for the ‘Toyota’ Category

Toyota Recalls 2.5 Million Vehicles in US for Window Switch Fires

Toyota is recalling 2.5 million cars in the United States due to faulty power window switches that can cause a fire in the driver’s door.

Toyota said that the driver’s side window switches may not be completely greased from the factory, which can result in the switches sticking or feeling “notchy.” If aftermarket grease is then applied, the switch could short and cause a fire. Among the included models: The 2007 to 2009 Camry, Camry Hybrid, RAV4 and Tundra; 2007 to 2008 Yaris; 2008 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid; 2008 to 2009 Sequoia; 2008 to 2009 Scion xA and xD; and the 2009 Corolla and Matrix.

Dealers will begin repairing the switches and applying “special fluorine grease” in late October, Toyota said. Affected owners can visit www.toyota.com/recall or call Toyota at 1-800-331-4331.

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Toyota, BMW Fuel-Cell Technology Sharing Agreement Almost Finalized

Toyota and BMW may announce the final details of their fuel-cell technology sharing agreement this week. From the Japanese automaker, BMW will lease fuel-cell technology including drivetrain and hydrogen storage technology, Automotive News reports. BMW plans to show a fuel-cell prototype by 2015 and have a production car by 2020.


A fuel-cell converts hydrogen (or other fuel) into electricity, which is then used to power a vehicle. Refueling with hydrogen can be much quicker than the hours typically required to recharge an electric car, though the U.S. currently lacks a hydrogen fueling infrastructure that might make such vehicles more appealing to automakers. Fuel-cell vehicles can also run up to five times longer between refueling than battery electric cars can between charges.


BMW i8 concept left side 300x187 imageThis isn’t the first collaboration between the two auto giants. Toyota and BMW inked a deal in December 2011 to work together on lithium-ion battery development for hybrid and PHEVs, while BMW would supply Toyota 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engines for Euro-market cars. The automakers hope to produce lighter, higher-performance batteries with the agreement.


In June, the automakers signed an agreement for joint development of a hydrogen fuel-cell system, collaboration on electric powertrains, work on lightweight technologies, and a new lightweight sports car. While Toyota and Subaru jointly developed the lightweight rear-drive GT86/Scion FR-S/BRZ triplets, some speculate that Toyota and BMW could work together on the next-generation Z4 and a new Supra.


The new agreement could give the automakers an advantage over others that are currently developing fuel-cell technology, which include Mercedes-Benz, GM, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, and Hyundai.

Toyota Recalls Another 2 Million Cars. Apology Needed.

When NASA released the results of a 10-month study on Toyota vehicles on Feb. 8 concluding that the automaker’s cars did not have an electronics problem that caused unintended acceleration, one of Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s columnists said the media owed the company an apology. There is no ghost in the machine and the intense media coverage caused a frenzy, Bloomberg BusinessWeek columnist Ed Wallace wrote. I know Ed personally and have tremendous respect for him. But I must part ways on this issue.


Toyota may not have had electronic throttle issues. But certainly the company had plenty of other problems. Just today, Toyota announced its biggest recall in a year. The Japanese auto giant recalled 2.17 million vehicles because of carpet and floor mat flaws that could jam gas pedals. Toyota has recalled more than 12 million vehicles globally since November 2009, many of them related to unintended acceleration claims. Of those actions, 5.3 million vehicles were recalled to fix floor mat problems. Some of the cars were recalled because of a sticking accelerator pedal. It may not have been electronics, but there were problems.


Toyota has had other investigations and recalls not related to unintended acceleration. Last week, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration opened an investigation into the 2006 Highlander hybrid amid claims that the SUV stalls frequently. In January, Toyota voluntarily recalled 1.7 million vehicles for potential defects in fuel pipes and pumps, Bloomberg reported. On Jan. 10, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda told reporters that the recalls have inflicted “big damage” on the company, but he maintained that its cars are safe, Bloomberg reported at the time.


Back to the apology. While it’s clear that there is no mystery magnetic glitch in Toyota’s cars and that they are as safe as anyone else’s vehicles, forget the apology. First of all, investigations are news. So long as the media reports the conclusion, it’s in the public’s interest to know what’s happening. Second, Toyota’s lost its once-astute focus on quality. Rapid expansion of its model lines and sprawling archipelago of factories has made it difficult to mind every detail, which was a principal tenet of the company.


Consumer Reports has found a decline in the quality of interior finishes in Toyotas for the past three or four years, David Champion, the magazine’s director of automotive testing, told Bloomberg for a Jan. 12 story. The company whose customers once relied on Toyota for bullet-proof quality and reliability suddenly suffered a rash of problems. In fairness to my old pal Ed, some media reports accepted the unintended acceleration claims as gospel. But that alone does not exonerate Toyota. Sorry Ed, but it’s the customers – not Toyota – who deserve the apology. Toyota’s executives have apologized, and justifiably so.

Auto industry to feel impact from Japan’s troubles

Auto industry to feel impact from Japan’s troubles
The full impact is a month or two away, but Berkshire County drivers seeking new vehicles or parts eventually may encounter shortages.

So far, the effects of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster on Japan’s manufacturers have been limited here, though supplies of computer chips and other components used in vehicles have been curtailed worldwide.

Some Ford models are now unavailable in black or red because the pigment for the metallic paint comes from Japan, said Gary Johnson, chairman of Johnson Dealerships Inc. Noting that many parts for Ford vehicles are manufactured there, including audio systems, Johnson said he has yet to be notified of any delays. His Nissan dealership also has been unaffected up to now.

At the Haddad Motor Group, which sells Toyotas, Subarus and Hyundais at separate facilities, owner George Haddad said he hadn’t heard of much disruption except for Internet-access shutdowns at Subaru caused by rolling power blackouts.

“We try to think positively,” he said. “It’s too soon to see an impact, and I’m hoping everything comes back online. In another month, we should feel something.”

He explained that monthly allocations of new vehicles trucked to dealers could be affected by disruptions in Japan.

His Hyundai line, manufactured in South Korea and the U.S., uses few if any parts or components from Japan, Haddad added.

Interrupted production of the Toyota Prius should catch up, he said, as factories are reopened in the coming days. He also reported an abundant supply of parts from pre-earthquake shipments.

At Bedard Bros. in Cheshire, where two of the seven lines are Japanese, Brian Bedard said he has a 60-day supply of Hondas and Suzukis on the lot.

He was advised late Monday that Honda expects a disruption of parts and supplies after April 1. He expects a possible impact locally in 30 days, but any effects on the monthly allocation of vehicles to dealerships are unlikely until June.

Jim Salvie, owner of the Berkshire Mazda franchise on Pittsfield’s East Street “auto mile,” predicted that temporary production shutdowns and parts shortages “won’t hurt us until June or July.”

Because parts and supplies are shipped by slow-moving boats, the real drop-off has yet to be felt by factories in the U.S., Europe and Asia, according to the Associated Press. That will come by the middle of April.

“This is the biggest impact ever in the history of the automobile industry,” said Koji Endo, managing director at Advanced Research Japan in Tokyo.

Much of Japan’s auto industry — the second largest supplier of cars in the world — remains idle. Few plants were seriously damaged by the quake, but with supplies of water and electricity disrupted, no one can say when factories will crank up. Some auto analysts predict it could be as late as this summer.

IHS Automotive expects that one-third of daily global automotive production will be cut because of supply chain disruptions. That means about 5 million vehicles worldwide won’t be built, out of the 72 million vehicles planned for production in 2011.

The uncertainly has suppliers, automakers and dealers nationwide scrambling. And it exposes the vulnerability of the world’s most complex supply chain, where 3,000 parts go into single car or truck. Each one of those parts is made up of hundreds of other pieces supplied by multiple companies. All it takes is one part to go missing or arrive late, and a vehicle can’t be built.

Auto-industry analysts think buyers will soon see higher prices and fewer choices.

Customers already face rising prices for models like Toyota’s Prius, which is made only in Japan. Fears of falling supply have some dealers nationwide driving a hard bargain with customers who want the fuel-efficient hybrid as gasoline prices rise. Recent discounts of 5 to 10 percent on that car are disappearing.

Toyota Recalls Another 2 Million Cars. Apology Needed.

When NASA released the results of a 10-month study on Toyota vehicles on Feb. 8 concluding that the automaker’s cars did not have an electronics problem that caused unintended acceleration, one of Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s columnists said the media owed the company an apology . There is no ghost in the machine and the intense media coverage caused a frenzy, Bloomberg BusinessWeek columnist Ed Wallace wrote

Detroit auto show: Think small

By David Welch

The mood in Detroit is considerably better at this year’s North American International Auto Show than it was a year ago when General Motors was hunting momentum and Chrysler’s very survival was in question. I’ll get into the new models and concept cars as they roll out. In the meantime, here are a few notable comments from the auto executives I tracked down at the show.

Chrysler going public
Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said he wants to take Chrysler public in the second half of this year. Fiat won’t sell any of its Chrysler stock. The sellers will be the United Auto Workers retiree healthcare trust, and possibly the U.S. Treasury Department and Canadian government.

The Italian automaker owns 25% of Chrysler. The UAW owns 63.5% of Chrysler. The U.S. Treasury holds 9.2%, while Canadian municipalities have a 2.3% stake. Marchionne told reporters that he wants to pay back $7.5 billion in debt to the U.S. and Canadian governments in 2011 and then go public. Following GM’s successful IPO, Marchionne says Chrysler can launch its IPO following a couple quarters of profitability. “I’d love to do it in the second half of this year.”

IPO yes, but electric cars… maybe not
Marchionne bucked the trend among auto executives by casting some doubt on the potential of electric cars. Fiat plans to sell an electric version of its tiny 500 hatchback, he said. But that’s not where the market will be. If carmakers want to meet fuel economy regulations and boost efficiency, they’re better off just wringing more mileage out of gasoline engines, he said. “I’m reluctant to embrace full electrics as a solution,” Marchionne said. “The dollars spent for reduction in fuel use is not there. We have to be careful not to chase a rainbow.”

BMW’s U.S. boss throws down the gauntlet
BMW and Audi have gone toe to toe with their advertising efforts, taking shots at each other in the past. Audi had a billboard featuring the A4 that read, “Your move, BMW.” In response, BMW put up its own billboard for the 3-series saying, “Checkmate.” Audi has been gunning for its German rivals with its own brand of German engineering and sporty luxury cars. Jim O’Donnell, CEO of BMW US, took a shot at his rivals. With 220,000 cars sold in the U.S., BMW more than doubled Audi’s take in the market. Audi is “too worried about having a go at Mercedes and BMW,” O’Donnell said. “They have to learn to swing first. I think their whole communications strategy is wrong.”

GM tries to make money on small cars
For Detroit’s carmakers, small-car profits have been almost as elusive as a playoff appearance by the Detroit Lions. GM-North America President Mark Reuss said in an interview that GM should be able to make money on cars like the Chevy Cruze compact and Sonic subcompact, which are built in the U.S. with union labor. The company’s break-even point has fallen drastically since bankruptcy wiped away billions in debt and healthcare obligations. GM is wagering that cars like the Cruze and Sonic will offer a sportier ride and more creature comforts, so they should get a better price. The Buick Verano, which also had its debut at the show, will be built with many of the same parts as the Cruze. Its higher price should help the entire small-car program make money, he said.

The gamble is that cars like the Sonic–which have traditionally been cheap, entry-level transportation–can fetch a higher price by offering more horsepower, better ride and handling and features like MyChevrolet, a phone app that allows drivers to unlock doors, start the engine and check the vehicle’s diagnostics remotely. Ford is making the same bet with its Fiesta, which can sell for more than $20,000. Chevy has not priced the Sonic, but GM won’t set a ridiculously low price on the model, Reuss said. “If we’re going to make the cheapest, silliest car in the U.S. and try to make money on it, that isn’t going to work,” he says.

Is the Chevy Volt an EV or a Hybrid? Who Cares?

To hear one critic tell it, General Motors got caught in an out-and-out lie when the company described labeled the Chevrolet Volt an extended-range electric vehicle. Edmunds.com said in a headline that “GM Lied.” The Volt is really a hybrid-electric vehicle like the Toyota Prius, Edmunds said. Critics from Motor Trend and Popular Mechanics made a similar argument, though they stopped short of saying GM was dishonest

Inside Toyota, Executives Trade Blame Over Debacle

Inside Toyota, Executives Trade Blame Over DebacleAkio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp., standing, speaks at headquarters last month. Mr. Toyoda, a member of the Toyota founding family, is at odds with nonfamily managers over the company’s direction.

TOYOTA CITY, Japan—Toyota Motor Corp.’s quality crisis is exposing—and exacerbating—a long-simmering internal feud. The battle pits the founding Toyoda family against a group of professional managers, each blaming the other for the auto maker’s woes.

Behind the scenes in recent weeks, the skirmishing has grown intense. President Akio Toyoda, the 53-year-old grandson of the founder, has tried to push out one of the nonfamily executives: his predecessor as president, Katsuaki Watanabe, now vice chairman.

Not long after the company made one of its massive safety recalls in mid-January, Mr. Toyoda suggested to Mr. Watanabe, through an intermediary, that the former president leave the auto giant and instead run a Toyota affiliate, according to an executive who says he was told about the move by Mr. Toyoda.

Mr. Watanabe refused.

The standoff, which hasn’t been reported before, is a dramatic example of how the old split between the two camps is bubbling to the surface amid Toyota’s crisis. The feud is a distraction for a divided leadership as officials struggle to regain their footing after three months of attacks unprecedented in the company’s 75-year history.

Mr. Toyoda and his allies have been saying openly that when he took the top job last year after a 15-year hiatus for the Toyoda clan, he inherited a company weakened by nonfamily predecessors who sacrificed quality for faster growth and fatter margins.

The problems arose when “some people just got too big-headed and focused too excessively on profit,” Mr. Toyoda said at a Beijing news conference in March. He acknowledged the “ultimate responsibility for mistakes… lies in me.”

A week earlier, Jim Press—once the top Toyota executive in the U.S. before he jumped to a rival auto maker—issued a statement declaring: “The root cause of their problems is that the company was hijacked, some years ago, by anti-family, financially oriented pirates.”

Those executives “didn’t have the character to maintain a customer-first focus. Akio does,” said Mr. Press, who had a run-in with nonfamily Japanese bosses several years ago.

A Toyota spokeswoman declined to comment on the infighting, saying: “We do not discuss executive changes unless they are formally decided.” She declined to comment on the statements by Messrs. Toyoda and Press, or to make Mr. Watanabe available for comment.

Privately, the nonfamily managers have been waging their own campaign within the Toyota group. They say Mr. Toyoda never publicly opposed their profit-growth strategy when the company was widely praised for making big money and surpassing General Motors Corp. to become the world’s No. 1 auto maker. They say Toyota’s current troubles are less a quality crisis and more a management and public-relations crisis of Mr. Toyoda’s making, reflecting their longstanding warnings that he wasn’t ready to run a global corporation.

“Is Akio ducking criticism of being a beneficiary of nepotism by accusing us and trying to justify his ascendancy to the top job?” one of Mr. Watanabe’s top aides said. “One of our biggest social responsibilities is to generate profits and pay taxes. To criticize the company’s effort to maximize profits and thus taxes is just complete nonsense.”

Hiroshi Okuda, a nonfamily president who ran the company from 1995 through 1999, has told at least two associates since the recalls of cars involved in sudden acceleration incidents earlier this year: “Akio needs to go.” The 77-year-old remains a key company adviser even though he gave up his board seat last year.

Toyota declined to make Mr. Okuda available for comment. The Toyota spokeswoman declined to comment.

Takahiro Fujimoto, a professor of economics at Tokyo University who has studied Toyota extensively, says airing problems openly is very much part of Toyota’s corporate culture focused on kaizen, or continuous improvement. “But it’s highly unusual for anybody inside Toyota to publicly criticize certain individuals by name,” or to criticize in a way that it’s easy for anybody to identify the targets.

The feud dates to the mid-1990s, when the family relinquished control of the chief executive’s office for the first time since Eiji Toyoda, the cousin of the founder, became president in 1967. Non-Toyodas also ran the company from 1950-67.

By the time Akio’s uncle, Tatsuro, stepped down as president in 1995, after a stroke, the company was losing market share and risked posting its first loss since 1950. It was vulnerable to a weak Japanese economy, trade friction with the U.S., and a strong Japanese currency that crimped exports.

A series of non-Toyodas took the helm, beginning with Mr. Okuda in 1995 and ending with Mr. Watanabe in 2009. During their terms, the company revived financially and emerged as one of the most admired and studied companies in the world.

The gist of the Okuda-Watanabe strategy was to take Toyota’s globalization efforts, launched under the previous generation of family management, to new levels. Even though the company had begun to build factories in the U.S. and other markets in the 1980s, it still was seen as largely insular and Japan-focused.

In 1996, Mr. Okuda and aides unveiled a new strategy dubbed the “2005 Vision.” They aimed to retool the auto maker over the coming decade, growing rapidly while relying less on exports and more on factories producing locally in target markets, from Argentina to Thailand to the U.S. Mr. Watanabe was one of the authors of the plan.

To realize this 10-year vision, the executives devised interim “global master plans” to assign resources efficiently to different divisions, along with “global profit management” plans that required sales executives around the world to attain certain profitability goals.

The 2005 Vision also pushed Toyota to implement kakushin, or revolutionary innovations, in vehicle design and manufacturing. That included efficiency drives to reduce costs, not only through conventional means, such as simplifying designs and using cheaper materials, but also by changing the way cars are engineered. For example, engineers were pushed to combine functions into fewer parts and systems. Their aim: cut the number of components in a car by half.

In 2002, the plan morphed into the “2010 Vision,” aiming for 15% global market share by the early 2010s, an ambitious jump from the 10% mark Toyota had at the time. Toyota has yet to achieve this goal. Its consolidated group market share rose to as high as about 13% in 2008, according to CSM Worldwide, a consulting firm that tracks auto makers.

The effects of those measures were phenomenal. Starting around 2000, the company’s global sales began growing by up to 600,000 vehicles a year, more than the annual overall volume achieved by Volvo.

During this 15-year non-family reign, Toyota achieved other milestones: operating profit margins zoomed to an industry-leading high of 8.6%. In 2008, Toyota displaced GM as the world’s biggest auto maker by unit sales.

As part of his strategy, Mr. Okuda sought to diminish the family’s role. According to executives close to him, Mr. Okuda said founding-family dominance was an outdated concept—especially when the family controlled less than 2% of the stock in the publicly traded company.

At the peak of his power, Mr. Okuda publicly was frank about that belief. “The Toyoda family will eventually become a ’shrine’ to the company’s foundation, to which we will pay respect once a year,” he told The Wall Street Journal in a 2000 interview.

Asked then about future prospects for Mr. Toyoda, then a 43-year-old general manager, Mr. Okuda said: “Nepotism just doesn’t belong in our future.” He elaborated: “Akio-class talents are rolling around all over Toyota, like so many potatoes.”

At the time, Mr. Toyoda seemed to have been sidelined. When he was assigned to lead Toyota’s Chinese operations in 2001, China was still a backwater in Toyota’s global strategy. Mr. Okuda, by then Toyota chairman, likened the job to “mopping the floors”—a safe place for grooming a scion with more ambition than experience, according to a separate Journal interview in 2003.

But Mr. Toyoda fixed the troubled Chinese subsidiary and put it on a path for growth. He was then promoted in 2005 to the position of executive vice president, where he had broad responsibilities, including quality, product management, purchasing and global sales.

Even as he climbed the ladder, Mr. Toyoda said little in top management meetings, according to some nonfamily executives. As Toyota made progress, the non-family executives began dismissing Mr. Toyoda and treated him as a not-so-bright spoiled rich kid, say several non-family managers.

Executives close to Mr. Toyoda dispute the notion that he was overpowered by top management. While the company’s financial reports were improving, a number of vehicle recalls signalled that its famed quality was slipping, and Mr. Toyoda began to sound the warning bell. On Dec. 2, 2005, the end of the year when Mr. Okuda’s 10-year vision was coming to fruition, Mr. Toyoda gave an unpublicized, internal speech questioning the new direction.

Talking to engineers and mid-level executives, Mr. Toyoda said the rapid expansion exceeded the company’s ability to assure the quality and reliability of each model. He called on the engineers, seated inside an auditorium at Toyota’s global headquarters, to shift their mindset and attain the “resolve to make a big turn from emphasizing volume to quality,” according to a summary of the speech reviewed by the Journal.

Top executives at the time say Mr. Toyoda never took such complaints directly to them.

In 2008, the question of family vs. nonfamily management came to a head as Mr. Watanabe was preparing to retire as chief executive. Mr. Okuda, then a board member, angled for a close aide, another nonfamily executive, to take the job. Shoichiro Toyoda, a former president who remained an influential adviser, weighed in for Akio, his son, according to senior Toyota executives.

In January 2009, the company announced Akio Toyoda would replace Mr. Watanabe as president in June. Taking charge at 53 years old, Mr. Toyoda became Toyota’s youngest chief executive since his grandfather became president in 1941 at age 47.

The younger Mr. Toyoda declared as one of his first priorities undoing many of his predecessor’s policies. He began by signaling to underlings that he didn’t share Mr. Watanabe’s informal goal of hitting two trillion yen or more in annual operating income. He immediately killed the “global profit management” plan, associates say.

The reality of Toyota’s quality problems—the main battleground inside the company today—is a bit ambiguous.

Two separate surveys conducted by J.D. Power & Associates show the Toyota brand quality has actually improved over the past decade, measured by a decline in the rate of owner complaints. This occurred even as the number of vehicles the company recalled around the world skyrocketed in that time.

The surveys also show that Toyota rivals improved faster. In 2000, Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus placed first in quality rankings for used-car owners, while the Toyota brand ranked fourth. By 2009, Lexus fell from the top spot, ranking behind Buick and Jaguar, while the Toyota brand again placed fourth. In quality rankings for new-car owners, the Toyota brand in 2000 tied with BMW for fourth. In 2009, Toyota ranked sixth.

Mr. Toyoda’s supporters blame the slippage in relative quality rankings—as well as the sharp rise in recalls—on the company’s previous non-family managers. It takes two to three years to develop a new car, so the models experiencing problems were developed before Akio Toyoda took the helm last June.

The nonfamily executives acknowledge they made some mistakes. One says a large number of inexperienced contract engineers hired from outside agencies—an effort to save money as they tried to boost engineering capacity—led to at least some of the increase in quality glitches.

But the non-family managers blame Mr. Toyoda’s management style—both external and internal—as much as anything for letting the defects turn from a fixable problem into a full crisis.

Mr. Toyoda’s in-house detractors say the president has created an informal team of loyalists, making it tough for managers trying to communicate through the formal channels. One nonfamily manager says the current executive structure operates like a “shadow management team,” doubling up information and management.

In terms of handling the American public, politicians and press, they say Mr. Toyoda was slow to address publicly the controversy. And when he did finally speak out, they say, his statements were widely criticized as vague and halting.

Mr. Toyoda’s supporters say, on the contrary, he’s been clear and direct about the direction he wants to follow. At a press conference last month, Mr. Toyoda said the previous expansion push may have caused it to scrimp on quality, compromising its just-in-time production system, for example. “I would like to make sure we re-embrace those basics and rebuild the foundation of Toyota and its production system,” he said.

Honda, Toyota lenders aid dealers through clunker cash crisis

The finance arms for American Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., as well as select other lenders, are providing financial assistance to dealers struggling with cash-flow problems created by the federal cash-for-clunkers program.

Dealers submit their requests to the government for $3,500 or $4,500 rebates electronically. Under the program, they are supposed to receive payment in 10 days. But since the program’s July 24 launch, dealers have only received payment for a small percentage of the processed voucher requests.

American Honda Financial Services and Toyota Financial Services said today they are providing relief to the dealers with credit lines for their new-vehicle inventory.

Toyota Financial Services automatically pre-approves dealers in good standing for a wholesale line of credit to be used exclusively to finance the clunker rebate amount.

American Honda Financial Services allows dealers to deduct the amount of the rebate when the dealer pays off the inventory loan on a vehicle. Though lenders typically give dealers three to seven days to pay off the inventory loan, Honda Financial is giving dealers an extra 20 days from the date the dealer submits a request to the government for the rebate check. The program began Wednesday.

“Dealers aren’t being paid on a daily basis for the clunker submissions, so we’re giving them extra time to make the deal work,” said Chris Martin, a Honda spokesman.

Ford’s used-car support

Ford Motor Credit is taking a different approach, says spokeswoman Meredith Libbey. It is working with qualifying dealerships that it floorplans to provide additional used-vehicle financing on a temporary basis to help ease the cash-flow crunch.

Comerica Bank, a large provider of inventory financing for dealerships, has no formal program, but it is trying to flexible with its dealers caught in the cash crunch. The dealer can deduct the amount of the rebate when it pays off the inventory and complete the payment when reimbursed by the government, said Joe Moran, senior vice president in Comerica’s dealer services group.

“We understand they may require some liquidity and support,” said Moran. “We’re working with our dealers.”

David Wilson, president of David Wilson Automotive Group in Orange, Calif., said, “We’ve sold nearly 1,100 cars on the program and have been paid for five.”

“I’m out way over $4 million and growing by $200,000 per day,” he said.

Wilson, who owns Toyota and Honda stores, is not taking advantage of the financial assistance because he says his company has plenty of capital. But he hopes the government will set a definite end date for the program.

“This stimulus is really working,” said Wilson. “If we could just get paid.”