Car sales got off to a slow start in January, but the Japanese brands continued to put heavy pressure on the domestic brands. Honda's sales slipped four percent but Toyota Motor Sales, the largest Japanese automaker, posted a six-percent increase. Nissan reported a 17-percent increase. Both General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group reported sales gains, but Ford said its sales had dropped by 12 percent. Overall sales, however, were weaker than expected only a couple of months ago. The final figures weren't available yet but it appeared that sales were up about three percent. The annualized rate of 16.7 million units was about the same as a last January, automakers said. Besides
Jan. Sales: Japan, Chrysler, GM Up by Joseph Szczesny (2/1/2005)
Ford drops 12 percent as the year starts with a whimper.
Wolfgang Bernhard started his new job as an executive at Volkswagen AG on Tuesday, and while he is expected to wade in gradually to his new responsibilities, his mandate is to shake up the company, hatchet costs, and shorten the time it takes VW to bring an idea from drawing board to showroom.
Bernhard starts off as a member of the executive board, and is scheduled to take over as chief of the Volkswagen brand group, which includes Skoda, Bentley, and Bugatti, by January 2006.
Bernhard is coming off a tumultuous year. As COO of Chrysler Group, he was lauded for revitalizing the company's product portfolio, especially the Chrysler 300C and Dodge Magnum. And just as he was about to take over as head of the Mercedes-Benz division last year, DaimlerChrysler chairman Juergen Schrempp denied him the job he was promised because he rankled too many executives during his five-month warming-up period before taking over.
VW Group chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder told TCC last month that he was surprised that Bernhard became available and that he called him almost immediately after the episode at Mercedes. "I think our company has so much more strength. But it's like a car with so much power and torque, but we don't have the right friction to bring it all out on the ground. This is exactly the reason I got him," said Pischetsrieder.
"We need for the VW brand more emotion," said the chairman. He continued, "And we need more Volkswagen brand identification for the other brands in the group. Ninety-nine percent of the questions that are asked of us about our products are always dealing with the Volkswagen brand. This ignores the fact that this is a part of the business in terms of profit and turnover that's less than 50 percent of the business."
Finally, about Bernhard, Pischetsrieder said, with a grin, "He needs to continue the part of changing our company in terms of processes and direction [that I have begun] and I'm not worried that he might stir our quietness too much."
At Chrysler, Bernhard hammered costs down, eliminated inefficiencies, cut supplier bills, and shortened the time in which it takes Chrysler to bring new models to market. He was out to do some of the same at Mercedes. But Mercedes executives resented Bernhard's overly caffeinated style and got the Works Council chief to complain about him, which ended up being the last straw that broke Bernhard's back. Bernard, too, had lost Schrempp as a booster when the former did not support the chairman in his bid to recapitalize Mitsubishi.
One of his top priorities, even before sorting out the VW Group's brands, is overhauling VW's purchasing apparatus, steeped in part with Lower Saxony-based suppliers and factories. The State of
Volkswagen has forecast 2004 operating profit of 1.9 billion euros before one-time items. But it's up for grabs as to whether VW will be able to limit the one-time charges to 400 million euros. -Jim Burt
Bernhard Resurfaces at Volkswagen by TCC Team (10/11/2004)
Former DCX superstar signs on at Volkswagen.
PSA Link is Part of Mitsubishi's Regeneration Plan
PSA Peugeot Citroen has confirmed that it is close to signing an agreement with Mitsubishi that will provide the French group with an all-new SUV. The collaboration will plug a major gap in the Peugeot/Citroen model range and will play an important part in the restructuring plan that the troubled Japanese company announced last week. PSA Peugeot Citroen's CEO, Jean-Martin Folz, is visiting
PSA's link is similar to other joint projects in which it has been involved in recent years. These have seen it collaborate with
The Mitsubishi deal is similar to the others, and it will provide PSA with expertise in all-wheel drive, an area where Mitsubishi has a strong track record. The Japanese company will lead the project, but a team of PSA engineers will be sent to
Off-road vehicles are taking an increasing part of the European market, where 6.2 percent of vehicles sold are off-road capable. The figure is 5.5 percent in
Observers of PSA, which has expressed a wish to return to the
Mitsubishi Gets More Cash by Joseph Szczesny (1/31/2005)
Another infusion into the patient - but is Mitsubishi Group losing patience with its carmaking arm?
Nissan Moves in
Nissan is another company that will show a new concept at the
The overall look of the vehicle is tough, with aesthetics that follow those of a real off-roader such as a Jeep rather than the soft-roaders that have become a Japanese specialty. Judgment on the design will have to wait until the Zaroot has been seen in the metal, but it must be said that gullwing doors were first seen in the 1950s from Mercedes and the "window in a window" format this concept uses was featured in the 1989 Subaru concept that went into production in 1992 as the SVX coupe.
On the production car front, Nissan has announced that it will add another model to those produced at its plant in
Qashqai, pronounced "Cash-Ky," is a crossover vehicle, part people-carrier, part hatchback, with available all-wheel drive. Nissan believes it will fill a growing niche in the market for vehicles designed to live a dual life and will be aimed at young professional people who enjoy living and working in the city during the week but who want to escape at the weekend. It is the second new model to be announced at Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK Ltd (NMUK) in just six months, following confirmation that a production model based on the Tone show car unveiled at the Paris Motor Show last autumn will go into production in January 2006.
Initial production volume of the Qashqai (It is unlikely that the name will be applied to the production version) will be around 130,000 units per year. This would increase the plant's total annual volume to around 400,000 units - strengthening Sunderland's position as the
The third-largest automaker said its exports grew 14.5 percent on year to 64,673 units last month, boosted by the Lacetti and Kalos minicar, which are sold under Chevrolet and Suzuki badges in these two markets.
The exports of complete knockdown units - the bulk of auto parts that are assembled in overseas partner plants - also rose thanks to increased production at its plants in China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam.
GM Daewoo also performed well in the home market of
GM Daewoo, in a bid to grab bigger portion of
Aiming to sell more than 1.1 million cars this year from last year's 900,000 units in and out of
The new models are necessary for GM Daewoo, which is battling against
With the two models included, the automaker plans to launch a total of five new products this year and, over the course of the next fifteen months, nine new products. It will begin with the launch of the all-new Matiz, followed quickly by the launch of the Statesman and the launch of the new SUV.
In September, GM Daewoo showed concepts of the SUV, the S3X, and Matiz mini car, at the
WORLD REPORT: Brazil
General Motors celebrated its 80 years of presence in
Yesterday, Daily Edition reported that "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's data for 2000 shows that 9873 occupants of SUVs died in rollover accidents, a third of the total for all vehicles."
The statement should have read, "…that 9873 occupants of cars, trucks and SUVs died in rollover accidents, a third of the total for all vehicles." Thanks to our readers for pointing out the error.
FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases
Even though the expectations of Internet automotive shoppers continue to increase, they also continue to give record-high ratings to auto manufacturer Web sites, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2005 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study(SM) - Wave 1 released today. The study measures Web site usefulness based on consumer ratings of three main components: relevance, navigation, and appearance/presentation. The study shows an average usefulness index rating of 799 for the industry - up 11 points from the measurement taken just seven months ago. Despite rising expectations by consumers for manufacturer Web sites, the lowest-rated site in 2005 receives higher usefulness ratings than did the highest-rated site in 2001.
The all-new 2005 Dodge Dakota Club Cab has received a Five-Star rating in front and side-impact crash tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Dodge Dakota marks the eighth consecutive new Chrysler Group product to receive Five-Star frontal crash-test rating. A Five-Star rating means the likelihood of injury in a frontal crash is 10 percent or less.
|American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc.||AXL||27.01|
|Ballard Power Systems Inc.||BLDP||6.44|
|Collins & Aikman Corporation||CKC||3.36|
|DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR)||DCX||46.15|
|Dura Automotive Systems||DRRA||9.25|
|Ford Motor Company||F||13.08|
|General Motors Corporation||GM||36.88|
|Goodyear Tire & Rubber||GT||15.96|
|Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR)||HMC||26.24|
|Johnson Controls Inc.||JCI||59.98|
|Magna International Inc.||MGA||76.66|
|Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR)||NSANY||21.32|
|Sonic Automotive Inc.||SAH||23.57|
|Sirius Satellite Radio||SIRI||6.29|
|Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR)||TM||78.65|
|TRW Automotive Holdings||TRW||20.00|
|Tower Automotive Inc.||TWR||0.77|
|United Auto Group Inc.||UAG||28.85|
|XM Satellite Radio Hold.||XMSR||30.80|