General
Motors, Ford and Chrysler have all postponed major new car and light truck model
debuts to cut costs as the U.S. economy weakens and sales slow, The Detroit News
reported.

Citing parts suppliers and industry consultants, the newspaper said that Detroit’s
Big Three have put back or reduced the scale several major new model programmes.

GM has delayed indefinitely the Buick Signia and Pontiac Banner sport wagons
originally expected to go on sale in 2004 while Ford has postponed the 2003
launch of the next-generation Ranger pickup to as late as 2006, the Detroit
News said.

Chrysler’s CS ‘crossover’ sport wagon, based on the 1999 Citadel
concept car and a likely competitor for the likes of the Lexus RX300, will probably
arrive six months late in early 2003, the newspaper added.

Acknowledging
that the postponements would save the car makers millions of dollars, the Detroit
News said the new model postponement strategy was risky and could put Detroit
at a competitive disadvantage to Japanese, German and Korean brands in future.

"I think the risk is huge," Jeff Schuster, an automotive forecaster
at J.D. Power and Associates in Troy, Michigan, told the Detroit News.

"The market is much different than it was five years ago. It’s ultra-competitive.
There are shorter life cycles. There are more players. Your products get longer
in the tooth, and your core buyer starts looking elsewhere."

The Detroit News said that spokesmen for the Big Three would say only that,
if there are programme delays, it’s not just a financial decision but also for
strategic reasons.

Any postponements are designed to ensure a new vehicle is absolutely right
for the market and can hold its own against competitors, the newspaper added.






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