02-22-2011, 02:36 PM
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Two of Detroit Three bail on Tokyo show, Ford wavering
Two of Detroit's three automakers are confirmed no-shows for this year's Tokyo Motor Show, with the third uncommitted as the deadline nears.
General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC will sit out the December event, skipping the show for a second straight time. Ford Motor Co. will decide by month's end.
The tepid response comes after all three American automakers skipped the last show in 2009 and despite Japan's efforts to woo reluctant foreign automakers with a new venue and date.
The registration deadline was last November. But the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, the show's organizer, plans to announce a final roster of attendees in April.
JAMA, still reeling from a string of dropouts at the 2009 event, says most European brands--including the major German ones--have signed up this year. But for U.S. automakers, which wring only marginal sales from Japan, the show is a tougher sell.
"This is a big event, but we wanted to focus on other priorities," said Sumito Ishii, managing director of GM Asia Pacific Japan. "It's an investment versus outcome issue for us."
GM, which last attended in 2007, spent millions of dollars on its five-car display, he said. Last year, Cadillac and Chevrolet--GM's two biggest sellers--sold only 2,000 vehicles here.
Ford, which sold 3,047 units in Japan last year, may be the only U.S. presence this year.
"Though our improved sales results in 2010 means greater resources this year, we have not decided where the motor show sits in our priorities," Ford Japan CEO Timothy Tucker said.
The Tokyo show, held every other year, was once the premier show in Asia. But in recent years, it has become overshadowed by the Beijing and Shanghai exhibitions.
The 2009 show was nearly scrubbed after a rash of cancellations by international carmakers because of the global financial crisis and Japan's waning market influence.
After polling foreign automakers about what changes would bring them back, JAMA moved the 2011 event to a new venue and month and made it three days shorter.
After 20 years of holding the show just outside Tokyo at the sprawling Makuhari Messe in Chiba, JAMA will move it to Tokyo Big Sight, a smaller convention center in Tokyo's waterfront district.
The show is set for Dec. 2-11, with press days scheduled for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Traditionally it has been in October. It will be open to the general public 10 days, three fewer than in 2009.
This year's theme of "Smart Mobility City 2010" will be underlined by a central exhibit of next-generation vehicles and such technologies as smart grids, telematics and battery recharging systems. Test drives of the futuristic vehicles also will be offered.