Sales down at Ford; up at Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan
Incomplete sales numbers for the industry released on Monday provided a mixed bag of results, with Ford down, Chrysler up, and Toyota maintaining its ongoing sales surge. While GM held its numbers until today, due to a computer error that delayed some regional sales numbers, Ford reported that its sales were off by four percent, with cars down eight percent and trucks down two percent; the F-150, however, once again increased its sales as a critical component of Ford's financial revival. DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group turned in slightly higher sales — up one percent — while its Mercedes-Benz unit saw sales increase by three percent. Meanwhile, Toyota-brand sales were up 10.1 percent and Nissan's were up 14 percent, but Japan's now-third-largest car company Honda watched its sales slump by 2.4 percent, with Acura's strength offset by a drop in sales of Honda-brand vehicles. BMW's numbers increased by 10.7 percent, and VW mustered a slight increase.
Daimler to sell stake back to Hyundai?
A Reuters report on Monday suggests DaimlerChrysler will sell its 10.5-percent stake in Hyundai Motor Co. back to the Korean carmaker. In the wake of its refusal of new investment at Mitsubishi, DaimlerChrysler has been reevaluating its troubled relationship with Hyundai, which includes a joint-venture project for new four-cylinder engines to begin production next year. The news agency reports that a Hyundai official confirms the upcoming sale, which could net DaimlerChrysler $1 billion. In the past week, DaimlerChrysler has declined to invest more in Japanese partner Mitsubishi's turnaround plan, has declined an offer from DC chairman Juergen Schrempp to step down, and has blocked the accession of former Chrysler executive Wolfgang Bernhard to the helm at Mercedes-Benz.
DCX Spins: Schrempp In, Bernhard Out by Jim Burt (5/3/2004)
Changes rumble on through German-American company.
DC to build Benzes in China
While DaimlerChrysler's Asian strategy is faltering in terms of alliances, it's making progress in what could be the largest market for vehicles on the planet. The German company says it's received permission from the Chinese government to build Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the country, in a joint venture with Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. The companies will build C-Class and E-Class sedans in a new plant in the capital of Beijing. The plant will be capable of building 25,000 vehicles a year, DaimlerChrysler said. Production will start by 2006.
China's Geely Takes On the World by Michael J. Dunne (3/29/2004)
A dark horse tries to win in the nascent Chinese car industry.
GM Ups Ad Spending
General Motors Corp. is planning to continue the communications offensive that has become one of the cornerstones of the company's corporate strategy ever since the "Keep America Rolling" campaign was launched back in the autumn of 2001 as the U.S. economy recovered from the aftershocks of 9/11. Roger Adams, General Motors' director of corporate advertising, says GM will spend more on advertising this year but it also is looking for more for its money. "Innovation, integration, and diversity, that what we're all about," he said. Thus GM's new push will include spending on network television, print ads, the Internet, as well as heavy doses of event marketing and product placements in films and on television, Adams told a group of reporters over dinner recently. "This is what people see. Some of it's traditional advertising; some of it's promotion; some is movies; some of it's public relations activity," said Adams. The campaigns will include more spending in minority communities that haven't always been addressed directly be GM advertising as well as advertising and promotions with a large entertainment value, Adams said.