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Auto blogMon, 02 Dec 2013 16:59:00 EST
Three months after kicking off production of the Ford Fusion at its Flat Rock, MI factory, Ford Motor Company is taking steps to trim output in the face of heavily discounted competition from Toyota and a growing supply of vehicles.
The addition of Fusion production in Flat Rock - which also builds the Mustang - was meant to be what pushed the handsome mid-sizer past its arch-nemesis, the Toyota Camry. An extra facility building Fusions was also meant to curb the growing demand for Ford's highly profitable sedan.
But with word that Flat Rock would take "approximately" one extra week off for the holidays combined with an 88-day supply of Fusions - reportedly due in no small part to what Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas called "aggressive discounting of the Camry" - some analysts are now beginning to wonder if Ford may have overextended itself by adding a second Fusion facility to the mix.
Introduced at the end of 2006, this is the last year for the Toyota FJ Cruiser, the reincarnated FJ40-series Land Cruiser that will shortly journey to Takama-ga-hara, the Plain of High Heaven. In its first model year, we drove it to SEMA and found it, shall we say, coarse. It bobbled on the freeway and droned in the cabin, its boxy interior providing four bounce-boards for unpleasant frequencies. Tall mirrors helped one work around the eclipse of vision aft of the B-pillars, but navigating traffic required forethought and technique. Its turning circle was measured in kilometers. For the first two years of its life, it needed premium gas. It may have been fun to look at, but we couldn't wait to get out of it.
That's not the case anymore, and now the FJ Cruiser is poised to join a long list of vehicles that got better and better, then got axed.
Toyota has announced that it will be issuing a recall of 690,000 Tacoma pickups from model years 2005 through 2011. The affected vehicles include both the four-wheel-drive model and the two-wheel-drive PreRunner (but not the standard 4x2 pickups), which may have a rather serious problem with their rear suspensions.
In some cases, corrosion and stress could cause one of the three or four leaves in the rear suspension's leaf springs to fracture. While the trucks can still be driven with a broken leaf, Toyota is concerned that it could move out of position and impact other components in the rear of the truck, with a particular focus on the fuel tank. Needless to say, but a piece of metal continuously impacting anything, let alone the fuel tank, is cause for concern.
As of this writing, there have been no reports of crashes, injuries, fires or deaths due to this problem, although that won't stop Toyota from informing all affected customers of the issue. Those 690,000 owners will need to report in to dealers for inspections and, if necessary, repairs.