SPY SHOTS: ’04 JAGUAR XJ
We’ve had lots of Jaguar pictures recently, but nothing this good. Almost a year before its introduction, our spy photographers managed to snap an undisguised prototype of the upcoming Jaguar XJ, as well as the very first pictures of the hot XJR. The new Jag, code-named X350, will go on sale in the U.K. in autumn 2003 with left-hand drive models following in spring 2004. See the best pictures yet of the aluminum-framed, V-8-powered Jag inside TheCarConnection.com:
Spy Shots: ’04 Jaguar XJ/XJR by Brenda Priddy (8/19/2002)
NEW E-CLASS $1500 LESS THAN OLD
Mercedes-Benz will launch the E320 version of its new mid-size E-Class at $46,950, $1500 under the price of the old model in the U.S. The top model, renamed the E500, sees a $1000 price increase, but at $53,850, it also gets a new, semi-active suspension system, a four-zone climate control system, and the car’s V-8 is upgraded from 4.2 liters to 5.0 liters. While E-Class sales will be down slightly this year due to the model changeover, Mercedes’ marketing chief, Dave Schembri, is forecasting 2003 will see sales of the new sedan surge to at least 51,000 in the U.S., which would be the best year ever for the mid-size mainstay. Even so, Mercedes expects the C-Class to remain its best-selling model, largely due to the proliferation of new niche spin-offs, such as the C Coupe and the C240 wagon, the latter also being launched this month.
2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class by Jill Amadio (8/19/2002)
AMERICANS DRIVING ALONE
More Americans than ever are going it alone to work, the AP reports. According to 2000 Census figures, about 76 percent of drivers 16 and older headed to work drive there alone. In 1980, the figure was 64 percent; in 1990, 73 percent, the news service says. About 12 percent of Americans carpool to work, down eight percent in the past two decades. Five percent of us use public transportation, and three percent actually walk to work. The residents of Huntington, W. Va. — Ashland, Ky., were the loneliest – some 87 percent commute solo — while only 38 percent of Washington, D.C., residents drove in by themselves.
BMW RECALLING FOR AIRBAGS
BMW will recall 20,500 3-Series vehicles for an airbag fix, Reuters reports. The German automaker will recall the vehicles in question for the second time to repair airbags that sometimes deploy without an accident. The vehicles in question are 323i and 328i sedans built between April and August 1999. The first recall affected more than 34,000 of the same model. Dealers will reprogram airbag controllers to keep the airbags from activating when drivers run into curbs or potholes.
2002 BMW M3 SMG by Eric Peters (8/5/2002)
PORSCHE WON’T LIST ON NYSE
Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking says his company’s not preparing to list itself on the New York Stock Exchange because of restrictive new reporting rules. "We have put it on ice for the time being," Wiedeking said at a press conference held for the Cayenne SUV in Leipzig, Germany. Reuters reports Wiedeking objects to chief executives having to swear to financial reports, a rule enacted in the wake of corporate accounting scandals that have shaved nearly 1500 points off the value of the NYSE in recent months.
DAILY IN DEPTH
GM's Pension Liability "Challenging But Manageable"
DETROIT — General Motors Tuesday said it is sticking to its $10 per share earnings target by mid-decade despite market worries over its giant under-funded pension plan and its potential drag on the automaker's cash.
GM Treasurer Eric Feldstein briefed reporters Tuesday, calling the pension fund, under-funded by $9 billion, "challenging but manageable." Recent media stories and Wall Street reports have been a drag on GM's share price, which closed up 19 cents Tuesday to close at $46.95.
Decades of plant closings, job cuts and generous retirement packages have left GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group with hefty U.S. pension obligations. GM supports two retirees for every active employee, while Ford and Chrysler each have a 1:1 ratio.
Due to the sharp sell-off of the stock market, GM's U.S. pension fund has lost three percent on its investment during the first six months this year. GM's $67 billion pension plan covering more than 630,000 active and retired U.S. workers began the year under- funded by $9 billion.
Some analysts estimate that the costs of supporting its retirees costs GM $1,000 per vehicle.
Feldstein said expenses for the pension plan will likely rise this year, but will be offset by further cost cutting and more contributions to the plan. GM has already contributed $2.2 billion to the plan this year.
Feldstein also said that, under accounting rules, GM is not required to make any contributions to its pension until late 2006.Depending upon the return of its pension investments, GM could expect to have to contribute, before taxes, between $6 billion to $12 billion to the plan through 2007, GM officials said.
TODAY’S AUTO FACT
According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2001 Navigation Usage and Satisfaction StudySM, although less than one percent of new-vehicle owners have factory-installed navigation systems, over one-half of them said they would “definitely” recommend the systems.
FROM THE SOURCE
Chrysler Group and its Web development partner, Organic, attract thousands of design and auto enthusiasts to the Chrysler Design Institute,http://www.chrysler.com/design/, a unique Web site highlighting Chrysler's rich heritage of design excellence. Since its launch in May, more than 110,000 visits have been logged.
The worlds of design, entertainment and fashion joined forces Saturday night in an extravagant celebration ofCadillac's centennial birthday. Luxury industry leaders, Neiman Marcus and Bvlgari hosted this affair to remember at Pebble Beach's five-star resort, Carmel Valley Ranch. In keeping with the spirit of Cadillac, the evening epitomized elegance and sophistication.
|AMER AXLE & MANU||AXL||29.00||-0.76|
|BALLARD PWR SYS||BLDP||14.38||-0.82|
|FORD MOTOR CO||F||11.91||-0.22|
|HONDA MOTOR CO||HMC||20.83||+0.03|
|UNIT AUTO GRP||UAG||16.78||+0.41|