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TCC's Daily Edition: 9/6/01


 CORRECTION: GM SALES NUMBERS
In yesterday’s Daily Edition, TCC mistakenly reported that GM’s sales in August dropped 20% versus August of 2000. The 20% figure was a drop in car sales only, not overall vehicle sales. Thanks to a good month selling trucks, GM’s overall sales fall was 8% compared to a year ago. TCC deeply regrets the error.

 

IT’S A CAR. IT’S AN SUV. IT’S A MERCEDES.
Mercedes-Benz looks like it’s getting ready to expand its stable of all-wheel-drive offerings. TCC has acquired spy photos of the Grand Sport Tourer, a unibody crossover vehicle that looks like a tallboy version of the Mercedes E-Class wagon. Check it out!

» Spy Shots: ’05 Benz GST

FORD TO MERGE ITS CAR AND TRUCK GROUPS
According to a story in The Detroit News, Ford Motor Company’s board of directors has approved a consolidation of the company’s car and truck engineering groups. The move, spearheaded by Ford’s new chief of North American operations Nicholas Scheele, is expected to save the company millions of dollars through the shared development of crossover vehicles and car-based SUVs, and through the sharing of staff positions between the two groups. Before this decision, Ford’s car and truck divisions each had its own engineering, legal, information technology, human resources and support people. Now, the redundant positions will be integrated into a single product-development entity. The big message being transmitted throughout Ford these days is clear: Save money…or else.

 

MORE BLUE OVAL BLUES
Amid the other turmoils it is weathering, Ford is getting ready to go before its first trial jury hearing a faulty-design lawsuit of the company’s Explorer SUV and tread-separation tendencies of Firestone tires. The suit, raised by the family of a Texas woman who died in a rollover when the tread on her 1998 Explorer’s Firestone Wilderness AT tires separated, is expected to set legal precedents for the hundreds of other lawsuits being brought against Ford and Firestone. An earlier Firestone trial, also in Texas, was settled before the jury had a chance to assess blame between the carmaker and the tiremaker. The family has already settled with Bridgestone/Firestone for an undisclosed amount. But wait, there’s more: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating Ford’s Expedition sport-ute looking for the same suspension defect that led to recalls of Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers last winter.
TCC's award-winning Firestone coverage

 

TOYOTA TO SPEND $8 BILLION ON MINORITY PUSH
Responding to a threatened boycott of Toyota products by minorities in the U.S., the Japanese automaker has struck a 10-year, $8 billion deal with Jessie Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH organization. Under the plan, Toyota will add 50 minority-owned Toyota dealerships, and spend $150 million in advertising over the next three years with an African-American/Hispanic agency. The deal also has Toyota spending another $750 million with minority-owned suppliers and services.
Jackson Blasts Toyota Ad by Joseph Szczesny (5/28/2001)

 

STRIKE ENDS AT VW BEETLE FACTORY IN MEXICO
After 18 days of zero production, the only factory in the world still producing the old Volkswagen Bug is back online. Located just outside of Mexico City, the factory also builds VW’s popular New Beetle for export. The strike ended after the plant’s workers accepted a deal hammered out by VW negotiators and union leaders in which the worker receive a 10.2-percent wage increase. The agreement also included about $25 more per month for each worker’s grocery allowance and a one-time payment of $85 for their children’s school supplies.


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