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CSM Worldwide, the leading provider of market intelligence and forecasting to the automotive industry, announces the May 2006 CSM Automotive Production Barometer(TM). Released in advance of existing sources of information, this service provides an accurate record of light vehicle production for the previous month to assist automotive economists and financial analysts in their ongoing industry evaluations.

The CSM Automotive Production Barometer for May 2006 and release schedule is currently available via the CSM Worldwide website: .

U.S. light vehicle production increased 1.30% in April to a seasonally adjusted 11.32M units versus a year ago. U.S. car production increased 4.3% over last year with light truck output off just 0.40% from 2005 levels. Actual unit production in the United States totaled over 880,000 units in April, posting a 13.30% decline from last year. North American production dropped 10.60% versus April 2005 to a seasonally adjusted 14.14M units, the lowest levels since the events of September 2001. Unlike the catastrophic events of that month, this most recent decline is attributable to a short production month of just 18 days, versus 21 days last year, as North American plants were idle for holiday observances. Year to date, production continues to outpace last year at 15.60M units, 0.8% above last year’s pace through April.

All of the New Six North American auto manufacturers posted weaker output compared to last year due to the shorter production month. General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler and Nissan posted significant double- digit declines of 17.40%, 11.70%, 10.90% and 15.10% year-over-year. Toyota and Honda posted declines of 6.20% and 1.00% in April compared to a year ago. In addition to the lower number of production days, other factors were at work, such as new vehicle launches and a more measured output plan from the traditional Big Three auto makers, particularly GM, which is curtailing fleet volume and trying to reign in inventory levels for numerous vehicle lines.

Year to date only Toyota and Honda are surpassing last year’s production pace, growing 1.00% and 4.30% respectively. Nissan is experiencing a reversal of fortunes of late following strong double-digit growth over the past two years. Like GM, Nissan is curtailing production over the next few months with several days of downtime across their North American operations, a typically unheard-of measure for a Japanese producer, to reduce inventory of their full- size trucks and for the outgoing Altima. In the case of the full-size trucks, like the Titan pickup, weakening demand is the culprit, while Altima output is slowing in preparation for the arrival of the redesigned model later this year. This trend is expected to turn as incremental production of the all-new Versa small car ramps up over the next few months, in addition to several redesigned vehicles entering production.

Both GM and DaimlerChrysler slipped 0.30% and 0.40% respectively from last year’s production pace through April to a 4.58M and 2.71M unit SAAR. Further declines are expected from GM and DaimlerChrysler as they transition production of key, high-volume model lines in the second half of 2006. Ford continues to be mired in weakening demand for an aging vehicle lineup with new products not delivering the needed volume gains as production year-to-date is down 5.80% at a 3.23M unit SAAR. Overall, CSM Worldwide projects total North American production to total 15.8M units in 2006.

Source: CSM Worldwide

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