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DAILY EDITION: Sept. 2, 2003


Mitsu Ousts Gagnon, Takes On O’Neill

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Sunday it replaced CEO Pierre Gagnon with Hyundai's U.S. chief Finbarr O'Neill. Gagnon resigned to "pursue other opportunities," but, in fact, was ousted because of Mitsubishi's suddenly bleak results in North America brought about by aggressive lending practices that have created credit losses, as well as charges that Mitsubishi has sometimes artificially boosted monthly sales figures in the last two years. Gagnon joined Mitsubishi Motors in 1997 and had been CEO since July last year, during which time he consolidated Mitsubishi Motors' North American operations into a single organization.

Mitsubishi Ousts Gagnon as CEO (9/1/2003)
Will a turn to Hyundai’s O’Neill help sagging sales?


UAW Hasn’t Picked Target Yet

The United Auto Workers contracts with the Big Three automakers are set to expire in less than two weeks, but UAW officials aren’t ready to name a lead company or target in this year’s negotiations. Ron Gettelfinger, UAW President, indicated that the pace of the contract negotiations had intensified over the Labor Day weekend as the union’s negotiating teams at General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler worked throughout the holiday. The UAW president, however, also said he is not yet prepared to focus on one company during an impromptu press conference following the dedication a new monument in Flint to the sit-down strikers of 1936-37. “That’s my decision to make and I have not made the decision on who would be a lead company or when the time is right,” Gettelfinger said.

UAW Hasn't Picked Target Yet (9/1/2003)
Which automaker will the union tackle first?


WORLD REPORT More Frankfurt Newcomers by Ian Norris

2003 Frankfurt Show Preview by TCC Team (8/11/2003)
Mercedes and BMW assert their territorial rights.

2003 Toyota CS&C concept

2003 Toyota CS&C concept

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Toyota will show a new hybrid concept car at Frankfurt that will take the company’s hybrid technology into a new market segment. It already has a hybrid family sedan, the Prius, in production, but the new car is an out-and-out sports car. The CS&S (Compact Sports & Speciality) concept is a 2+2 mid-engined car midway in size between Toyota’s MR2 and Celica conventional sports models. Like the MR2, the main engine of the CS&S is mounted in the center of the car, driving the rear wheels. The front wheels are also driven by a powerful electric motor, which contributes to the car’s sporting characteristics by providing strong acceleration. The system is similar to that used in the Prius sedan in that the electric motor is more powerful than those used in other hybrid designs. The CS&S was designed by Toyota’s styling studio in the south of France and is unusual in that although it appears to be a two-seater, it actually has two additional rear seats that are concealed by removable rear canopies. The car introduces a new control technology that uses holographic technology to enable the driver to operate certain systems by ‘touching’ virtual switches that appear as spheres floating in space.

2004 Lexus LS430

2004 Lexus LS430

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Frankfurt will see the introduction of the third generation of the Lexus flagship, the LS430. The changes are mainly under the skin, but there are new headlamps and a lower and wider front end, with minor modifications to the body sides and tail. Mechanical improvements include a new six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift lock mode that is claimed to improve performance and improve fuel economy. Improved lighting includes a system that directs the headlamps to follow the movement of the front wheels and LED rear lamps.

2003 Peugeot 307 Elixir concept

2003 Peugeot 307 Elixir concept

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Peugeot’s stand in Frankfurt will highlight a new sedan concept and the company’s 2004 entry in the World Rally Championship. The 407 Elixir points the way to the French company’s next family sedan, with fluid lines that sweep back to rear end that has no visible trunk but features an opening rear window and tailgate that put the car mid-way between a station wagon and a hatchback. The Elixir is evidence of an increased interest in wagons in Europe, but it is far from any conventional ideas of the wagon as a load-carrier — the concept has only two doors and just four seats.

2004 Peugeot 307 WRC

2004 Peugeot 307 WRC

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Peugeot is currently enjoying a good run in the World Rally Championship with its 206 WRC car, but it is already looking to the 2004 season, in which it will rely on a completely new car, the 307 WRC. Unusually, the rally car is not based on the compact sedan version of the 307, but on the new 307CC, a convertible with a retractable hardtop similar to that of the Mercedes SLK. The top of the rally Peugeot will not retract, but the body style offers real advantages to the engineers in terms of packaging. The new car is longer than this year’s entry and rides on a longer wheelbase, but weight is the same. Power comes from an all-aluminum 2.0-liter unit that develops around 300 hp.

 
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