TCC's Daily Edition: 8/27/01

August 27, 2001

FIRESTONE SETTLES SUIT OVER RECALLED TIRE FOR $7.5 MILLION
In an eleventh-hour maneuver, Bridgestone/Firestone has settled with the Texas family suing the tiremaker for faulty manufacturing and tread-separation issues resulting in rollovers when mounted on Ford Explorer SUVs. The case was considered precedent-setting because it is the first of more than 500 lawsuits against Ford and Firestone to go to trial and a jury. (If such a trial were heard and decided by a jury, that jury could be empowered to assess blame between Firestone and Ford, thus deciding who was to blame and how much.) But the Texas trial never got that far: While in its fourth day of deliberation on Friday, the jury was called back into the courtroom by District Judge Filemon Vela who announced that a settlement had been reached. Ford has already settled with the family, agreeing to pay $6 million. Firestone has settled more than 150 of the cases against it out of court, but the company still has about 400 lawsuits pending.
TX Family Settles with Firestone by Jim Burt (8/26/2001)
TCC's award-winning Firestone coverage

VOLKSWAGEN MAY SPLIT BRAND IMAGE BETWEEN AGGRESSIVE AND CONSERVATIVE LINES
After meeting with Volkswagen AG board member Bernd Pieschetsrieder, industry analysts are predicting that VW may be preparing to identify its brand messaging along image lines—i.e. “aggressive” and “conservative” brands—rather than more conventional lines like “luxury” and “economy” brands. This branding division would put Volkswagen, Bentley and Skoda in the conservative camp, and Audi, Lamborghini and SEAT in the company’s more aggressive image arena. The intention of this move by Europe’s largest automaker would be to promote stronger brand differentiation, especially for Audi and SEAT.
VW Stalks the Upper Class by TCC Team (8/26/2001)
2001 Volkswagen EuroVan MV by Bengt Halvorson (8/26/2001)
Preview: 2002 Volkswagen W8 by Jim Burt (7/9/2001)

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2002: ACURA
Acura has performance on its mind for the 2002 model year. In addition to the recently introduced RSX coupe replacement for the Integra, the company has a hotted-up Type-S version RSX close on the way boasting 200-horsepower and a 6-speed manual transmission. Even the stylish but more sedate TL sedan is getting the “Type-S” treatment next year. That means more power—260 horsepower from its 3.2-liter V-6, courtesy of this year’s CL Type-S coupe—plus a stiffer suspension and special alloy wheels. The ultra-Acura, the aluminum-bodied NSX sports car, will remain as is mechanically with its VTEC-inspired 3.0-liter V-6 still producing 290-hp, but its exterior gets a facelift and new taillight treatment for the new year. The flagship Acura RL and sporty CL models soldier on largely unchanged from 2001.
2002 Acura RSX by John Pearley Huffman (6/25/2001)

WEEKEND RACING RESULTS: NASCAR—THE SHARPIE 500
The last time NASCAR drivers Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon met at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, things ended badly for Stewart—Gordon bumped and spun Stewart from fourth place to 21st and Stewart got probation and a $10,000 fine for his post-race stalking and bumping of series-leader Gordon’s #24 Chevrolet. But it was a different story Saturday night at the Sharpie 500. This time, Bristol—Tony Stewart’s favorite track—hosted Stewart’s third victory of the season. In a race that was ripe for ugliness with Gordon in the lead and Stewart drafting, right on his tail, cool heads and racing prevailed under the lights. On lap 432 of 500, after 30 laps of nose-to-tail running, Stewart’s #20 Pontiac dropped down to the bottom of Turn 2 and worked its way past Gordon for the lead and the win. Gordon also dropped a spot to Kevin Harvick, ultimately finishing third, but maintaining the Winston Cup points lead.

CARS AND STARS, PART ONE: JAMES BOND RETURNS TO ASTON MARTIN
After three cinematic stints driving BMW automobiles, Pierce Brosnan—a.k.a. James Bond, Agent 007—is returning to his British roots. For the 20th Bond film—as yet unnamed, but said to be using Beyond the Ice as its working title—007 will be doing battle with evil while piloting an Aston Martin Vanquish, thus returning to Bond’s historic marque of record as written by his creator, novelist Ian Fleming. After the BMW Z3 roadster from Goldeneye, the 5-Series sedan in Tomorrow Never Dies, and the Z8 super-roadster in The World Is Not Enough, it will be nice to see 007 back behind the wheel of a proper British supercar, especially one with a 6.0-liter V-12 and 460 horsepower. BMW was reportedly shaken by the announcement, but not stirred to comment.
Preview: Aston Martin V12 Vanquish by TCC Team (10/16/2000)

CARS AND STARS, PART TWO: RUSH HOUR 2 CORVETTE GOES UP FOR PUBLIC AUCTION
If you were a big fan of the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker action/comedies Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2, this could be your moment. New Line Cinema and America Online in association with Spectrum Auction Company are now accepting online bids—www.auction.newline.com­—for the 1972 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible that figured prominently in both movies. New Line tells us that the car is in excellent condition, freshly painted and CD-player equipped, with the dashboard signed by Chan and Tucker. Bidding will end tomorrow, August 28, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. And yes, there is a precedent for such a sale: When New Line auctioned off the 1969 ‘Vette from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, the winning bidder paid $121,000.

FACTOIDS

European Automakers Show Greatest Quality Improvement

According to the 2001 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, Asian manufacturers continue to set the standard for vehicle quality. However, European automakers demonstrated the most quality improvement in 2001, nearly tying Asian quality scores. Asian manufacturers now average 140 problems-per-one-hundred vehicles (PP100) with Europeans only one point behind at 141 PP100. Domestic automakers averaged 153 PP100.

THE TICKER:

Autoliv (ALV), Closed 20.05, up 0.04

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ArvinMeritor (ARM), Closed 18.72, up 0.42

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American Axle (AXL), Closed 18.50, unchanged

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Dana (DCN), Closed 20.96, up 0.08

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DaimlerChrysler (DCX), Closed 47.00, up 1.08

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Donnelly (DON), Closed 15.29, down 0.11

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Delphi Automotive (DPH), Closed 14.49, up 0.11

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Eaton (ETN), Closed 74.58, up 2.04

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Ford (F), Closed 20.39, up 0.31

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General Motors (GM), Closed 56.99, up 0.78

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Gentex (GNTX), Closed 29.49, up 0.49

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Goodyear (GT), Closed 25.23, up 0.23

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Johnson Controls (JCI), Closed 74.10, up 0.72

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Lear (LEA), Closed 35.40, down 0.07

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Magna International (MGA), Closed 63.99, up 2.45

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Nissan (NSANY), Closed 12.35, up 2.45

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SDRC (SDRC), Closed 24.96, up 0.04

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Toyota (TM), Closed 64.20, up 0.88

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TRW (TRW), Closed 38.90, up 1.40

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Visteon (VC), Closed 16.98, up 0.23

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