Benchmarks are a dime a dozen in the auto industry, but here's one that's especially tough on Detroit.
For the first time, import-brand automakers this year will produce as many or more vehicles in North America than General Motors, according to data compiled by Automotive News and other industry analysts.
If trends hold, import brands will finish the year making 4.84 million light vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico, according to figures compiled by CSM Worldwide Inc., of Farmington Hills, Mich.
General Motors stands to finish the year with 4.74 million units, according to CSM. GM says it will make 4.87 million units in 2005. GM's figures include AM General's Hummers, Pontiac Vibes made by New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. and other vehicles made by CAMI Automotive Inc. The import brands overtook Ford Motor Co. in 2003.
Without getting into a debate on how production figures are calculated (it's a confusing mess), the bottom line is that import brands are making as many cars and trucks in North America as GM or Ford. Soon, they'll be making more.