Daily Edition: July 31, 2001

July 21, 2001

SCIENTISTS' REPORT RECOMMENDS CAFE BOOST A National Academy of Sciences report officially released Monday concludes that automakers should be able to increase the fuel economy of sport-utility vehicles and light trucks by as much as 47 percent over the next ten to fifteen years. The panel of scientists said that there are a number of tradeoffs, such as the need to make vehicles lighter yet still offer proper crash protection, though future fuel economy targets in a 16-to-47 percent range would be reasonable. New interest has recently sparked in Congress regarding the federal government's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which have been frozen at 20.7 mpg for light trucks and 27.5 mpg for cars. The auto industry has currently adopted the stance that a raise in the CAFE will directly affect the crash safety of new vehicles, in an attempt to scare Congress and the public away from supporting more drastic measures.
See Jerry Flint’s take on rising CAFE standards

BATTLE OF THE GRILLES, ROUND TWO It looks like the battle of the grilles between DaimlerChrysler and General Motors will continue all the way to the courts. Earlier this year, DaimlerChrysler filed a lawsuit against General Motors, accusing GM of making the grille for its upcoming Hummer H2 sport-utility vehicle to be too similar to the grille design used by Jeep vehicles. According to the Detroit News, DaimlerChrysler recently presented two alternate grille designs for the Hummer that it would accept to General Motors, but GM called them unacceptable. The case will likely be heard in December 2002, more than six months after the H2 is slotted to go on sale.
First Drive: GM '01 Concepts by TCC Team (6/11/2001)
2002 Jeep Liberty by John Pearley Huffman (5/7/2001)
FORD REVISING PARTS NETWORK Ford Motor Company will restructure its parts distribution and delivery system in order to allow dealers to receive parts once a day rather than once a week, and also allowing Saturday orders for Monday morning. The new system will expand the number of parts distribution centers to 21 from the current ten. The new system will also distribute parts through different locations depending on the type of repair. Ford will complete its overhaul of the parts network in 2004.

SOUNDS LIKE ANOTHER THREAT... General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner has said that tighter federal fuel-economy standards would not be good policy, because they would ignore current consumer demand for gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles. Wagoner said that GM would be forced to stop making full-size SUVs if the light-truck standards were raised by more than three miles per gallon. According to Bloomberg News, Wagoner said, "We don't force people to buy SUVs. People buy them because they want them."
CAFE Stays Put Until October by Joseph Szczesny (7/16/2001)

CELLPHONES: DISTRACTION, RADIATION, …WHAT NEXT? A top radiation official in Germany has issued a warning that drivers should avoid using cellphones completely while inside cars. Some preliminary data gathered by scientists has supported a claim that a car's cabin will 'trap' radiation, significantly increasing the cellphone user's dose as opposed to being outside of the vehicle. The official, from Germany's Radiation Protection Agency, also issued a precaution that children should be kept away from cellphones. U.S. sources have not yet found any links between cellphone use and health problems that have been linked to cellular technology by scientists in other countries.
NY Says Shut Up and Drive by Joseph Szczesny (7/2/2001)

DON'T LEAVE YOUR CHILD IN THE CAR! In Fort Worth, Texas, a two-year-old boy has apparently died of heat exposure after he was inside a hot car waiting for his family to return. Each summer, many children die due to being left in cars on hot sunny days, and often their parents don't realize how susceptible small children are to the heat and how hot it can become in a car on a sunny day with the windows closed. An Associated Press report said that at least three other children in Texas alone have died due to heat exposure in cars this summer.

MAN JOB CUTS Heavy truck maker MAN AG of Germany is planning to cut 1900 jobs over the next year, due to a lack of demand for its products in the weak market. The job cuts amount to more than five percent of the company's 35,800 workers. U.S. truckmaker Freightliner has also endured several rounds of job cuts in the past year due to the lagging commercial vehicles market.

’03 CADDY CTS UNVEILED Are looks everything? In the case of the 2003 Cadillac CTS you see here, GM hopes they’re at least a big part of the equation. The 2003 CTS, the replacement for the German-bred-and-built Catera, will be unveiled officially on Aug. 18th at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, Calif., but the first shots of the car have already been released. Click over to today’s edition of TheCarConnection for a preview of the CTS, and decide for yourself in our daily poll whether it’s a great leap forward — or another Caddy that zigs.
Preview: '03 Cadillac CTS by Marty Padgett (7/30/2001)

FAST FACTS:

  • Some 58 percent of loans made by E-Loan, Inc. are for autos, the online lender said in its second quarter reporting. With an average loan of $19,470.87, E-Loan says its auto portfolio amounted to $131 million or 14.7 percent of its total loans for the period—approximately $890.5 million.
    Source: Eloan (
    http://www.eloan.com)
  • DaimlerChrysler (DCX) was downgraded Monday from NT Neutral to NT Reduce by Merrill Lynch.
  • Visteon says a joint licensing and development alliance with SpeechWorks will speed the development of hands-free voice-enabled technologies in vehicles. Visteon chief operating officer Michael Johnston says manufacturers and owners alike are asking for more sophisticated 'hands-free' services that can help them get the information they need quickly and safely. Companies such as America Online, E*Trade and Yahoo! are already using SpeechWorks technology. Source: Visteon (http://www.visteon.com/)
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