CHICAGO Executives at
General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Sales USA have outlined
plans to boost North American manufacturing capacity, citing
the growing driving-age population, the aging fleet of vehicles
on the road, an increase in Hispanics buying power and
customers ready access to loans as solid drivers for auto
Detroit-based GM has launched
facility investment in the region of more than $10.2 billion
since July 2009, North America president Mark Reuss said Jan.
16 at the Automotive News World Congress.
"Were poised to announce
another $1.5 billion or so in North American investments this
year," he added, although he didnt provide details. The
company spends $8 billion per year on product development.
"This industry moved almost 15
million vehicles in 2012. Thats more than most people
expected, sooner than they expected," Reuss said. "The auto
industry is among Americas largest consumers of steel,
rubber, glass and semiconductors, among its largest investors
in (research and development) and is its largest exporter."
Toyota USA president and chief
executive officer James Lentz was similarly optimistic. "(This)
will be a great year for the auto industry and Toyota," he said
Jan. 16 at the Deutsche Bank Access Global Auto Industry
Conference in Detroit.
"In the last 13 months, we have
completed or are in the process of expanding our North American
footprint, with a $1.5-billion investment to open up new or
expand manufacturing plants," Lentz said, adding that the
Torrance, Calif.-based companys 14 North American plants
are near capacity after production rose 41 percent in 2012.
These facilities make 70 percent of the companys
domestically sold vehicles.
"Some of the expansions (will)
help accommodate the increase in our North American-built
exports, which jumped by over 50 percent last year," he said.
"We expect that number to increase this year."
The consensus among analysts is
that U.S. vehicle sales will rise by 500,000 units to some 15
million units in 2013, an increase of more than 3 percent from