U.S. Automakers Lag Japan In Productivity

The Big Three automakers lag behind the Japanese in productivity at North American plants, but are ahead in profits, according to a survey released Wednesday.

U.S. makers have done a better job anticipating buyers’ preferences, while Japanese makers have suffered from slow sales at home, a rising yen and cars with expensive features that Americans do not want, said James Harbour, lead author of the Harbour Report.

Chrysler Corp. made an estimated $1,259 per vehicle it sold last year while productivity leader Nissan lost an estimated $374 per vehicle, the report said.

Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tenn., had the highest productivity for cars and trucks in 1994, as it did the previous year, the report said.

The figures include only the labor at the assembly plants themselves, not the work that goes into vehicle components.

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