- Summary: Toyota, despite its seemingly perfect execution, has not exactly gotten it right with every model, every time. A good example is in the minivan segment where it and the rest of the market struggled to come up with an answer to Dodge's Caravan for many years. Persistence paid off however, as its redesigned Sienna minivan in 2004 started to win over consumers. Ford on the other hand, has lacked persistence. It has effectively abandoned various segments of autos that showed weakness, instead of investing more and trying to improve them. Consider its Freestar minivan. which it will stop making next year; the sharp fall in sales of Ranger small-size pickups; and the disappearance of the once best-selling Taurus midsize sedan. Toyota is relentless in its pursuit of market share, and although there are other reasons aside from persistence why Toyota is enjoying more success than Ford, this is a critical time in which Ford must prove it can innovate or it will eventually find itself a niche player.
- Comment on related stocks/ETFs: Continued downsizing is what's making news at Ford (F) these days. See if you agree with Jerry Flint that Detroit's luck has run out. Barron's recently offered nine tips for Alan Mullaly, Ford's new CEO. The threat of Toyota (TM) is growing even as it plans to slow things down to focus more on quality. Year-to-date share prices of both Ford and Toyota are about flat, although Ford's shares have fallen nearly 20% after gaining almost 40% over about the past two months.
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