TCC Daily Edition: 8/16/01

August 16, 2001

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LOOKING GOOD: CHRYSLER SHOWING OFF NEW VERSIONS OF PT CRUISER

As if the PT Cruiser wasn t good enough looking all by itself, DaimlerChrysler has given journalists a sneak preview of three new versions of one of the hottest vehicles the automaker has ever produced. Look to TheCarConnection.com for photos and all the gorgeous details later today.

GM PAVES THE ROAD FOR PROFITABILITY IN EUROPE WITH CUTS

The details are in. General Motors German subsidiary Adam Opel says it will boost revenues and cut costs (about $1.8 billion in costs) to return to profitability in 2003. The broad framework was outlined in the carmaker s Olympia program, geared toward putting GM Europe and Opel in the black. Consistent and sustainable were two words used by Pat Campbell, vice president of finance at GM Europe to describe desired profitability levels at the company. In order to reach those levels, the company will need to achieve revenue and cost improvements in excess of two billion euros over the next two years, he said. Part of the mechanics involves cutting capacity by 15 percent. Closing a plant is not being ruled out, but Campbell and CEO Carl-Peter Forster said they might decide instead to downsize several smaller facilities. Job cuts would likely be, Forster told a press conference, in the small single-digit thousands.

DAEWOO PROSPECTS GET BOOST WITH FOURTH STRAIGHT MONTH OF PROFITS

The prospects of GM taking over Daewoo brightened with the posting of the beleaguered company s fourth straight month of earnings before interest and taxes in July. Daewoo earned $10 million on sales of $357 million. Notably, the company said the questionable (at least in GM s view) Pupyong plant near Seoul contributed some 40 percent of those earnings in July. We have proven the Pupyong plant can be profitable," a spokesperson said. "We believe GM will be interested in the plant." Analysts believe GM is shunning the operation because it is one of Daewoo s oldest and least cost efficient plants.

BMW DESIGNER SIGNS WITH FORD S PAG

Former BMW designer Henrik Fisker, whose signature designs have included the exterior of the Z07 concept car and the exterior of the production version of the Z8 roadster, will be creative director of Ford Motor Co. s Premier Auto Group and design director at Aston Martin. Fisker, 38, replaces Ian Callum, who moves from Aston Martin to head design at Jaguar Cars Ltd., another Ford unit. Fisker was CEO of BMW s Designworks USA. The Newbury Park, Calif., company designs concept cars and other products, including bicycle seats and office organizers. Fisker began as a designer at BMW in 1989. At Ford s PAG, he will lead a team of 30 London designers working on product design and marketing strategy. The moves take effect on September 1.

TIREMAKER CONTINUES ASSAULT ON FORD AND EXPLORER

In a second day of testimony in the first U.S. lawsuit to make it to trial, tiremaker Bridgestone continued to point its corporate fingers at Ford Motor Co., maker of the Explorer involved in most of the crashes involving the tires in question. While Ford is not directly involved in the suit, having settled privately with the family, it is being accused by the tiremaker s attorneys, who say the vehicle s design is to blame. A Bridgestone attorney also asserted that the driver was negligent and had no experience driving the Explorer.

STUDY SHOWS MOST N.A. SUPPLIERS FARING BETTER THAN OVERSEAS

A study by automotive consultant A.T. Kearney says most North American auto suppliers are doing well financially, at least as compared to their counterparts overseas and American businesses in general. The study, of 54 publicly traded makers of auto parts, included Lear Corp. and Dura Automotive, who ranked at the top of the list of suppliers based on their ability to generate cash. The companies are rated on a measure called cash flow return on net investment, which looks at a firm s ability to make cash from its assets, like plants and machinery. It is a measurement widely used on Wall Street. At the bottom of the 25 North American suppliers was Federal-Mogul and TRW Inc. Federal-Mogul had asbestos-related suits to contend with; with those excluded it would have ranked in the middle of the pack. Auto suppliers in Japan scored poorly in the study, coming up negative in their ability to generate cash flow. European suppliers fared better but still worse than North American companies.

LEAR, MAGNA UNIT AND VENTURE WIN GM INTERIORS CONTRACTS

Three companies Lear Corp., Intier Automotive Inc. (a Magna subsidiary), and Venture Industries have won separate contracts to manage the interior programs for future GM vehicles. The granting of contracts reflects the desire of automakers to cut costs by providing entire systems such as seats with wiring and controls and fewer individual parts. GM had previously picked Johnson Controls Inc. to manage interior parts for its line of minivans. The total amount of the contracts was not disclosed.

FACTOID

WHEN ALL YOU'VE GOT IS LEMONS, YOU MAKE . . .

The Experian Automotive National Vehicle Database, which tracks the life cycle of 330 million vehicles, indicates more than 50,000 of those vehicles have been classified as lemons or are mandated as OEM buy-backs. These statistics are based on information from 25 states that provide lemon statistics on vehicles. In recent years, several auto retailers have been caught trying to squeeze consumers by selling lemons without disclosing their history. As a result, consumers continue to place a high priority on researching a vehicle's history. According to the Safety Forum, automakers buy back approximately 100,000 lemons every year and resell about 95 percent of these vehicles as slightly used vehicles, without revealing their history and corresponding drop in value."

See more on the auto lemon issue here:
www.e-autohistory.com

FROM THE SOURCE:

AUTOWEB NO MORE AFTER MERGER WITH AUTOBYTEL.COM

Autoweb.com, Inc., a leading consumer automotive Internet service, Wednesday announced the completion of a merger between Autoweb and Autobytel.com, Inc., a leading online automotive commerce company. Under the terms of the merger, originally announced April 11, 2001 and approved by Autoweb's stockholders on August 14, 2001, Autobytel will exchange shares of Autobytel common stock for all outstanding shares of Autoweb common stock and assume all outstanding options to purchase Autoweb common stock. The exchange and assumption will occur at a rate of 0.3553 Autobytel shares for each Autoweb share. Autoweb will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Autobytel. Following the merger, Jeffrey A. Schwartz, formerly the President and Chief Executive Officer of Autoweb, will become the Vice Chairman of Autobytel. Autoweb will seek immediate delisting of its common stock from the NASDAQ National Market following the completion of the merger.

--PR Newswire

MITSUBISHI SELECTS WEB-BASED TRACKING SYSTEM PROVIDER

As part of a comprehensive overhaul of the company's information systems, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc. (MMSA) selected ICL, Inc. of Las Vegas, Nevada, to provide a Web-based vehicle tracking and vendor audit system for all vehicles shipped from Mitsubishi's domestic and Japanese plants to their 513 franchised dealers in the U.S. ICL will collect information from MMSA and MMSA's transportation partners to generate a continuously updated Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) for all vehicles in the delivery process. In addition to vehicle tracking, ICL will also provide MMSA the ability to electronically audit and approve for payment freight invoices submitted by both rail and truck carriers. ICL's management reporting system will allow MMSA to identify delays and inefficiencies throughout the finished vehicle supply chain.

--PR Newswire

THE TICKER

Autoliv (ALV), Closed 21.01, down 0.10

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ArvinMeritor (ARM), Closed 20.04, down 0.08

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American Axle (AXL), Closed 20.76, up 1.02

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Dana (DCN), Closed 23.52, down 0.03

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DaimlerChrysler (DCX), Closed 47.70, down 0.20

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Donnelly (DON), Closed 15.80, down 0.05

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Delphi Automotive (DPH), Closed 15.50, down 0.28

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Eaton (ETN), Closed 74.87, down 0.38

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Ford (F), Closed 22.55, down 0.44

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General Motors (GM), Closed 61.99, down 1.02

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Gentex (GNTX), Closed 31.45, up 0.26

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Goodyear (GT), Closed 27.18, up 0.33

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Johnson Controls (JCI), Closed 79.83, up 0.22

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Lear (LEA), Closed 41.77, up 0.78

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Magna International (MGA), Closed 68.03, down 0.12

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Nissan (NSANY), Closed 13.42, up 0.15

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SDRC (SDRC), Closed 24.84, up 0.03

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Toyota (TM), Closed 65.75, up 0.11

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TRW (TRW), Closed 41.89, down 0.66

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Visteon (VC), Closed 20.31, up 0.06

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