While much of the world focuses on the global manufacturing war under way, the savvy investor should focus on the next hot spot: the new international design war brewing in the auto, wireless handset, airline and PC industries. Look at the auto industry to see what I mean. After years of lagging behind, General Motors ( GM) has pretty much eliminated the productivity gap between its car factories and the North American plants of the Japanese car makers, according to the 2004 Harbour Report on North American auto factory productivity. But GM makes just a scant $178 profit per vehicle, while Toyota ( TM) rakes in a profit of $1,742 per vehicle and Nissan ( NSANY) is even more profitable at $2,402 per vehicle. The bulk of the difference comes down to rebates: Detroit has to pay consumers twice as much to buy its cars as Japan's automakers do. And that's because Toyota, Nissan and Honda ( HMC), which once far outpaced Detroit in manufacturing efficiency, are now winning the design wars. They are doing a better job of designing cars that customers want and will pay more for.
Kelley Blue Book Web site , I found rebates for a 2004 Chevy Malibu that began at $2,000 and went up to $4,000. Rebates for the 2004 Cadillac CTS began and ended at $2,000. By comparison, the highest rebate I found on a 2004 Toyota Camry was $1,500.