MINI Traveller Concept Coming to
An American-themed version of the MINI Traveller concept seen at this year’s Frankfurt auto show will be on display at the Detroit auto show in January. The Americanized version of the concept loses its B-pillar for openness, and adds flexibility in loading with specially hinged doors that swivel to the side and front for maximum accessibility. A new storage box off the rear side window has side flaps for loading and unloading cargo. Silver metallic paint and a white leather interior round out the concept for the Detroit show, which opens to the media on Jan. 8.
Daily Edition: Oct. 12, 2005 by TCC Team (10/11/2005)
MINI Tokyo Concept, Lutz takes on the media, and Chrysler recalls.
Cars Boost Market Share
A new report from Merrill Lynch indicates that full-year sales in 2005 will be very close to the five-year average of about 16.9 million units and virtually unchanged from 2004. The big year-over-year change for 2005 is in the model mix: for the first time in 25 years, cars will regain market share versus light trucks. The shift has been especially prominent in the last four months as hurricanes and $3-a-gallon gasoline served as a turning point in consumer preference. “If this trend continues in ’06, the Big Three, which rely heavily on light trucks for the majority of their sales, could experience accelerated market-share losses,” the report noted. A report from J.D. Power & Associates earlier this week also predicted further decline in market share for the Big Three. —Joe Szczesny
Daily Edition: Dec. 21, 2005 by TCC Team (12/21/2005)
UAW Approves Ford Pact Changes
Ford Motor Co. hailed the ratification of a new healthcare package for both active and retired members of the United Auto Workers. Union members narrowly approved contract changes that are expected to save the struggling automaker as much as $850 million annually. The final vote released by the union showed that 51 percent of active Ford workers voting on the contract approved the healthcare changes, which represented the biggest concessions by the UAW in more than two decades. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger had acknowledged before the vote that the changes would require sacrifice by both active and retired workers.
“Ford is pleased to have reached an agreement with the UAW on the increasingly important issue of healthcare,” said Joe Laymon, Ford Motor Co. group vice president, corporate human resources and labor affairs. “This agreement would not have been possible without the leadership of UAW President Ron Gettelfinger; UAW Vice President, National Ford Department, Gerald Bantom; and Ford Motor Co. Vice President, Labor Affairs, Marty Mulloy,” Laymon said.
Much like the recent General Motors agreement with the UAW, Ford’s agreement includes contributions to an employee benefit association that will be used to subsidize the cost of retiree benefits. In addition, both active and retired workers will have to pay more through co-payments and deductibles. The union did succeed in protecting some of the older retirees but retirees of more recent vintage will have to pay a maximum of $752 per year for in-network healthcare coverage or $1252 for out-of-network care. Until now, the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for retirees had been negligible. —Joe Szczesny
Ford, UAW Agree on Healthcare Cuts by Joseph Szczesny (12/19/2005)
DC To Repair Faulty Pollution Controls
DaimlerChrysler will repair about 1.5 million vehicles as a part of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency over faulty emissions equipment. The company will spend about $94 million to complete the repairs, which the EPA says involved catalytic converters that failed at a higher rate than usual. The converters are found on 1996-2001 Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and Wrangler SUVs; and Dodge Dakota trucks and Ram vans. The Justice Department had pursued the settlement with the EPA, charging that the company failed to disclose the defect. As a part of the settlement, the company will extend the warranty on about 700,000 of the affected vehicles, with owners of another 300,000 vehicles being notified of the potential problem. A half-million vehicles will have the catalytic converters checked and will have diagnostic systems fixed.
Ford Dealers Upheld in Blue Oval Suit
Nine Ford dealers won a court victory Tuesday in a suit seeking the right to sue the automaker over disputed aspects of the company’s Blue Oval dealer bonus program. Upholding the dealers’ argument that they could challenge Ford’s methods in determining bonus amounts in Federal courts was an opinion by Judge Samuel A. Alito, the U.S. Supreme Court nominee who serves on the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Judge Alito remanded the case to the Federal District Court in Newark, N.J., which had dismissed the suit, declaring that the dealer position is entitled to a trial on allegations that dealers’ complaints of “concrete and particularized injuries…are generally traceable to Ford’s behavior and [are] redressable in court.”
The Blue Oval strategy of rewarding dealers with bonuses based on facilities upgrades, market-share improvements and employee training was introduced by Ford in 2000. Last August, cash bonus payments to dealers were ordered suspended by the company because of economy factors, but the automaker kept in effect requirements for facilities enhancements and improvements in staffing and customer satisfaction. Most Ford dealers welcomed the quarterly Blue Oval bonus payments, but plaintiffs testified that costs of certifying for bonus eligibility often tended to exceed the paybacks by the company.
Judge Alito and two other members of the Appeals Court panel agreed that dismissal of the dealers’ suit by a District Court judge in Newark should not have occurred without trials. At press time, Ford had not decided whether to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. The plaintiffs are all affiliated with the Ford Dealers Alliance of Hackensack, New Jersey. The “dealer equity” group was founded in 1970 and claims 1700 members from the Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealer organizations. —Mac Gordon
Ford Does Well in
Ford South America (FSA) has turned in a positive preliminary report for 2005. Based on forecasts, the company should produce the best financial results ever in its history, especially in Brazil — possibly becoming the company’s most profitable regional operation the world over, according to Antonio Maciel Neto, president for FSA. Market share has risen to 13 percent in Brazil, 18 percent in Argentina, and 21 percent in Venezuela. Barry Engle, president of Ford of Brazil, said exports have grown seven-fold in six years, to nearly $1.4 billion in 2005. He added that Ford has just opened the first port privately owned by any automaker, in the state of Bahia — a must, as the company exports one-third of its total production. —Fernando Calmon
Engineering services are expected to grow at GM do Brazil, doubling to $400 million in the next two years. The subsidiary bears lower design and development costs that can be up to 70-percent cheaper than those in more economically developed countries. The conversion of the HUMMER H3 to diesel power and right-hand drive for exportation from South Africa to Europe and other countries is one of GM do Brazil’s first assignments. The second project is a compact passenger car to be launched in 2007 for markets outside the U.S. — a vehicle which will likely be a sedan version of the Celta. —Fernando Calmon
Korean CKD Exports Rise
Knockdown exports of South Korean automakers including GM Daewoo, Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, and Ssangyong Motor jumped nearly 30 percent from a year ago to 707,173 units in the first eleven months of this year, the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) said.
South Korean automakers, particularly third-largest GM Daewoo, are increasingly depending on knockdown exports as they try to avoid high import tariffs in developing countries.
GM Daewoo is the most active knockdown exporter, shipping a total of 447,975 units during the period, up 49.5 percent from a year earlier. GM Daewoo has been mostly shipping knockdown kits to China, Thailand, India, Columbia, and Venezuela. —Peter Chang
PlanetOut Inc., the leading global media and entertainment company exclusively offering consumer services, news, and entertainment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, today announced the creation of a premiere event at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. The new PlanetOut Brunch, presented by Scion, and also sponsored by The Advocate, IndieWire, and the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (MGLFF), will take place Saturday, Jan. 21, 2006 (between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) at Cisero’s on Main Street, located in the heart of Park City, Utah.
|American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc.||AXL||18.34|
|Ballard Power Systems Inc.||BLDP||4.36|
|DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR)||DCX||50.74|
|Dura Automotive Systems||DRRA||2.25|
|Ford Motor Company||F||7.95|
|General Motors Corporation||GM||18.64|
|Goodyear Tire & Rubber||GT||17.93|
|Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR)||HMC||29.35|
|Johnson Controls Inc.||JCI||72.53|
|Magna International Inc.||MGA||69.92|
|Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR)||NSANY||20.48|
|Sonic Automotive Inc.||SAH||22.55|
|Sirius Satellite Radio||SIRI||6.70|
|Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR)||TM||102.77|
|TRW Automotive Holdings||TRW||25.43|
|Tower Automotive Inc.||TWRAQ.PK||0.055|
|United Auto Group Inc.||UAG||37.86|
|XM Satellite Radio Hold.||XMSR||29.02|