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Nissan Sets Blistering Feb. Sales Pace


TCC'S DAILY EDITION: Mar. 3, 2004

Nissan Sets Blistering Feb. Sales Pace

With Nissan and Toyota setting a blistering pace, sales in February beat expectations, climbing 5 percent and pushing the annualized sales rate up to 16.7 million units. That's a strong rise over January, when the annualized rate was calculated at a disappointing 16.2 million units. Paul Ballew, General Motors' general director of market analysis, noted solid sales in February have put the industry as a whole ahead of last year's actual sales pace by more than 100,000 units. Representatives from the automakers also said results from February bolstered earlier forecasts that total sales would reach 17 million units this year. "Our sales forecast remains unchanged at 17 million units," said Jarleth Costello, Ford economist.

Nissan Sets Blistering Feb. Sales Pace (3/3/2004)
Toyota hot too, GM good, Ford faltering.

Switzerland Shows It Off

2004 Geneva Motor Show2004 Rinspeed Splash conceptSwitzerland - you can set your watch by the trains, and you can count the number of major car companies native to the nation on no fingers. And that's what makes the Swiss show a major hit with automakers, who throng to the show each year to make their press play on neutral ground. Yes, General Motors and Volkswagen and Toyota and Ford are here - but so are Lorinser, Rinspeed and a whole host of brands Americans may never have heard of. Today TCC is bringing you the highlights from the Geneva motor show from far and wide as well as big and small. You can get all of our Geneva stories through the index below; also make sure to see the show's official site at www.salon-auto.ch for more information.

2004 Geneva Motor Show Index by TCC Team (2/22/2004)

MINI Exposes Convertible

2004 MINI Cooper ConvertibleThough MINI continues to exceed BMW's expectations for sales in the States, that doesn't mean the revived British brand will rest on its laurels. Later this year, the MINI Convertible will come to the States, and audiences in Geneva got the first look at the coming droptop. The fabric-roofed MINI Convertible is, in fact, two convertibles in one: the fabric roof slides back nearly 16 inches for a targa effect, and opens the rest of the way, stacking onto itself behind the rear seats, in 15 seconds for a completely open-air experience. Structural reinforcements to the chassis and a pair of roll hoops provide for better safety in the Convertible, while a slightly revamped front end distinguishes it from the roofed MINI from the beltline down. In Europe, the MINI Convertible will be offered as the 90-hp MINI One. The U.S. will get the Cooper Convertible with the 115-hp four-cylinder and later the Cooper S Convertible with 163 hp. Two new colors-Hot Orange and Cool Blue-can be ordered with the ragtop edition, while three top colors will be offered. Anti-lock brakes and electronic brake distribution are standard, while stability control and traction control will be made available as options.

2004 Geneva Motor Show, Part I (3/3/2004)
All creatures, big and small: Colts, MINIs and Alfas.

Subtle Muscle from BMW's M5

2004 BMW M5 ConceptDon't let the subtle design fool you. The all-new BMW M5 isn't just a tuned-up version of the standard 5-Series. It boasts "Formula One technology and power," declared Ulrich Bruhnke, the new head of the automaker's high-performance M division (and formerly head of rival AMG, the muscle division of Mercedes-Benz). The latest incarnation of the M5 features a new, high-revving V-10, the first ever in a production sedan. It's 500-inch displacement punches out a full 500 horsepower. Officially, the Bavarian rocket is just a concept vehicle - but just for the moment. That's because of curious rules at the Geneva Motor Show. In reality, revealed Bruhnke, "You can expect the introduction of a production model before the end of this year." Over the years, BMW has been cautious about building up its M lineup, often dropping a particular model for a year or more before offering up a replacement. But that is apparently about to change, Bruhnke hinted to TheCarConnection. In his previous position at Mercedes, the affable executive oversaw a grand transition; there are now AMG versions of virtual all of the automaker's products, even the big G-Class SUV. Bruhnke wouldn't say if BMW would go the same, precise route, but he did say that there will be "many more" M models added in the next few years.

2004 Geneva Motor Show, Part II (3/3/2004)
Rolls rolls out 100EX, Smart gets Brabus help and Benz fields SLK and CLS.

Tata Brings on Indigo Advent

2004 Tata Indigo AdventIndia's largest car manufacturer and one of the largest industrial groups in the sub-continent, is a regular exhibitor in Geneva. It used this year's show to announce the Indigo Advent, a new model on the platform that already forms the basis of the Indica hatchback, the Indigo sedan and the Indigo Station Wagon. The Advent is a mini-MPV crossed with what we must now learn to call a 'soft-roader', an SUV with pretensions to, but no equipment for, venturing off-road.

2004 Geneva Motor Show, Part III (3/3/2004)
Jaguar refreshes, Skoda reinvents, and Tata gets bodacious.

Maserati Feeding Need for Speed

2004 Maserati MC12 StradaleEven as it prepares to launch the third new model in its lineup, the Quattroporte sedan, Maserati has rolled out a fourth product, though getting one won't be easy. The MC12 is the name chosen for both the new Maserati race car, and a street-legal version featuring a 6.0-liter V-12, dubbed the MC12 Stradale. It's rated to top 205 mph, and will launch from 0-100 kmh (0-62.5 mph) in 3.8 seconds. Company officials report they've already sold all 25 Stradales, each at 600,000 Euros. But Maserati insiders report there's a good chance a second batch of MC12s will now be offered up. Though street legal in Europe, the road-ready racers will not pass federal standards in the States. Even so, several Americans are believed to be among the buyers.

2004 Geneva Motor Show, Part IV (3/3/2004)
Maserati's 205-mph supercar, Lambo's roadster and Nissan's Qashqai.

Citroen Makes It a Family Affair

2004 Citroen C4 conceptCitroën has done it before: unveiling a rally car based on a new model range. With a sport concept, the French car maker does not only show the design of the C4, the successor of the compact Xsara, but also its rally plans with the new car. The front end of the C4 Citroën Sport shows the family likeness with the twin chrome chevrons. The interior is designed to meet the regulations of the WRC, the World Rally Championship. The renewal of the Citroën brand started with the mid-size C5, followed by the small C3 and C2 mini. The debut of the production version of the C4 is expected in September at the Paris auto show, while the market introduction will follow in the fall. The model shares the platform and the engines with its PSA cousin, the Peugeot 307.

2004 Geneva Motor Show, Part V (3/3/2004)
Citroen's family affair, Peugeot's new 407, and Korea's dual-pronged assault.

Ladies’ First With Volvo YCC Concept

2004 Volvo YCC conceptThe Volvo YCC, or Your Concept Car, which bows today at the Geneva Auto Show, is not a chick car. Nor is it pink. But it has been completely designed and developed by a female team of Volvo employees - and that is a first in the car industry. The concept arose from Volvo's unique demographics, which skew toward females more than many import brands. In the U.S. 53 percent of Volvo buyers are female. But in Europe, Volvo is not doing so well with women. Although half of the buyers in Europe's premium segment are female, only 14 percent of them are driving a Volvo. So the Swedes sought help from outside. In October 2001, during a presentation at Volvo's headquarters, a marketing lady pointed out how Volvo could be more successful amongst women. Thereupon some female Volvo employees got the idea to build a concept car, for women - by women. They asked their manager to come up with more names of females in the company to form a team. Communications manager Tatjana Butovitsch Temm was the only one to be involved in the project on a full-time basis, and after half a year she presented the plan to Volvo's President and CEO Hans-Olov Olsson as the MCC, My Concept Car.

Ladies’ First with Volvo YCC Concept (3/3/2004)
An all-woman team designs a concept, proving that the car industry isn’t just a man’s world.

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases

PRNewswire

First, it was Chrysler Crossfire... world-class engineering and proven quality in an exquisite wrapper. Next, the Chrysler Crossfire Roadster ... an audacious, yet glamorous, head-turning version of the ultimate expression of the Chrysler brand. Now, the Crossfire SRT-6 ... a new level of Crossfire with an infusion of race inspired, street legal American performance in both coupe and roadster forms. The new Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6, revealed at the 74th Salon International de l'Automobile in Geneva, will become the first SRT-badged Chrysler Group vehicle to be introduced to markets outside North America when it goes on sale later this year.

THE TICKER

Name Symbol Last Chg
AUTOBYTEL INC ABTL 14.17 +0.20
AUTOLIV ALV 43.78 -0.91
AUTONATION INC AN 16.50 -0.36
ARVINMERITOR ARM 22.89 -0.27
AMER AXLE & MANU AXL 38.41 +0.36
BALLARD PWR SYS BLDP 10.096 -0.194
BORG WARNER BWA 91.07 -1.47
COLLINS AIKMAN CKC 5.42 -0.08
CUMMINS INC CMI 52.96 +1.59
DANA CORP DCN 21.71 -0.44
DAIMLERCHRYSLER DCX 44.91 -0.14
DELPHI CORP DPH 10.20 -0.07
DURA AUTO SYS DRRA 12.92 -0.08
EATON ETN 59.65 -0.24
FORD MOTOR CO F 14.12 +0.13
GENERAL MOTORS GM 48.60 -0.05
GENTEX CORP GNTX 40.78 -0.02
GOODYEAR TIRE GT 8.28 -0.22
HONDA MOTOR CO HMC 22.37 +0.39
JOHNSON CONTROLS JCI 58.23 -0.46
LEAR CORP LEA 61.45 -0.28
MAGNA INTNL MGA 79.51 -0.72
MOTOROLA INC MOT 18.36 -0.50
NISSAN MOTORS NSANY 22.46 +0.11
SONIC AUTOMOTIVE SAH 24.60 -0.16
SIRIUS SAT RADI SIRI 2.95 -0.05
TRW AUTOMOTIVE TRW 25.41 +0.26
TOWER AUTO TWR 6.19 +0.13
TOYOTA MOTOR TM 71.12 +0.42
UNIT AUTO GRP UAG 29.51 +0.51
VISTEON CORP VC 10.20 -0.08
XM SATELLITE XMSR 25.75 -0.01

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