Let the new vehicle assault begin. Led by automakers like GM, Chrysler and BMW, 2004 is shaping up to be a year when automakers roll out more all-new or redesigned cars and trucks than they have in any one calendar year in recent memory, according to the Detroit Free Press
By various counts, 60 to 65 new vehicles will be
out next year, compared with about 50 to 55 this year and about 30 to 40 a year for most of the previous decade, the Free Press
The reason, say vehicle-development experts, is that General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group are ratcheting up their new-product launches in 2004, while the Asian automakers keep coming on strong with new or redesigned trucks after new or redesigned sport utility vehicles.
European automakers like BMW and Volkswagen are also pushing out more new cars and trucks than they have in the past, according to the Free Press
. A truism in the industry is that new products are the key to making money.
"Look at this past year: Ford has just three products and Chrysler had just the Pacifica,
Crossfire and Durango. Next year, both of them have a lot more new products, like Chrysler with the Dodge Magnum or the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which hasn't been competitive for a while. Ford has the Freestyle, the 500, the new GT, a new Mustang and the Mercury Mariner, so that right there is a lot of new products," said Mike Wall, auto analyst for CSM Worldwide, an auto forecasting firm, according to the Free Press