TCC's Daily Edition: 9/6/01

September 6, 2001

 CORRECTION: GM SALES NUMBERS
In yesterday’s Daily Edition, TCC mistakenly reported that GM’s sales in August dropped 20% versus August of 2000. The 20% figure was a drop in car sales only, not overall vehicle sales. Thanks to a good month selling trucks, GM’s overall sales fall was 8% compared to a year ago. TCC deeply regrets the error.

 

IT’S A CAR. IT’S AN SUV. IT’S A MERCEDES.
Mercedes-Benz looks like it’s getting ready to expand its stable of all-wheel-drive offerings. TCC has acquired spy photos of the Grand Sport Tourer, a unibody crossover vehicle that looks like a tallboy version of the Mercedes E-Class wagon. Check it out!

» Spy Shots: ’05 Benz GST

FORD TO MERGE ITS CAR AND TRUCK GROUPS
According to a story in The Detroit News, Ford Motor Company’s board of directors has approved a consolidation of the company’s car and truck engineering groups. The move, spearheaded by Ford’s new chief of North American operations Nicholas Scheele, is expected to save the company millions of dollars through the shared development of crossover vehicles and car-based SUVs, and through the sharing of staff positions between the two groups. Before this decision, Ford’s car and truck divisions each had its own engineering, legal, information technology, human resources and support people. Now, the redundant positions will be integrated into a single product-development entity. The big message being transmitted throughout Ford these days is clear: Save money…or else.

 

MORE BLUE OVAL BLUES
Amid the other turmoils it is weathering, Ford is getting ready to go before its first trial jury hearing a faulty-design lawsuit of the company’s Explorer SUV and tread-separation tendencies of Firestone tires. The suit, raised by the family of a Texas woman who died in a rollover when the tread on her 1998 Explorer’s Firestone Wilderness AT tires separated, is expected to set legal precedents for the hundreds of other lawsuits being brought against Ford and Firestone. An earlier Firestone trial, also in Texas, was settled before the jury had a chance to assess blame between the carmaker and the tiremaker. The family has already settled with Bridgestone/Firestone for an undisclosed amount. But wait, there’s more: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating Ford’s Expedition sport-ute looking for the same suspension defect that led to recalls of Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers last winter.
TCC's award-winning Firestone coverage

 

TOYOTA TO SPEND $8 BILLION ON MINORITY PUSH
Responding to a threatened boycott of Toyota products by minorities in the U.S., the Japanese automaker has struck a 10-year, $8 billion deal with Jessie Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH organization. Under the plan, Toyota will add 50 minority-owned Toyota dealerships, and spend $150 million in advertising over the next three years with an African-American/Hispanic agency. The deal also has Toyota spending another $750 million with minority-owned suppliers and services.
Jackson Blasts Toyota Ad by Joseph Szczesny (5/28/2001)

 

STRIKE ENDS AT VW BEETLE FACTORY IN MEXICO
After 18 days of zero production, the only factory in the world still producing the old Volkswagen Bug is back online. Located just outside of Mexico City, the factory also builds VW’s popular New Beetle for export. The strike ended after the plant’s workers accepted a deal hammered out by VW negotiators and union leaders in which the worker receive a 10.2-percent wage increase. The agreement also included about $25 more per month for each worker’s grocery allowance and a one-time payment of $85 for their children’s school supplies.

 

AUDI ADOPTS DIRECT-INJECTION TECHNOLOGY
Following Mitsubishi’s lead—and leaning on Mitsubishi’s technology—Audi is developing direct-injection gasoline engines. Recently, the Ingolstadt, Germany-based carmaker showed a new, high-compression 2.0-liter 16-valve four cylinder that it says will run 10 percent stronger and up to 15 percent more efficiently than a comparable non-direct-injection gasoline engine in which the air-fuel mixture takes place in a prechamber before being drawn into the combustion chamber.

 

 

FACTOIDS:

Auto Dealer Internet Use On the Rise
Despite the fall in Internet stock prices over the past year, automotive dealers are turning to the Internet in record numbers. This year, 61 percent of auto dealers are signed up with at least one independent online buying service, up from 55 percent in 2000. This factoid comes from a 2001 J.D. Power and Associates "Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services" study.

 

 

FROM THE SOURCE:

From PR Newswire Shell Oil Company’s latest safety campaign is aimed at teens, who make up only 5 percent of the licensed U.S. drivers but are involved in 15 percent of the car accidents . . . National City Corporation has unveiled the first bank-sponsored automotive shopping site on the Internet . . . Beginning with the 2002 model year, the Kia Sephia becomes the Kia Spectra sedan . . . John F. Donnelly named Senior Vice President of Donnelly Corporation's Global Customer Business unit

THE TICKER:

Autoliv (ALV), Closed 19.80, unchanged

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ArvinMeritor (ARM), Closed 17.94, up 0.05

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American Axle (AXL), Closed 18.90, up 0.50

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Ballard Power Systems (BLDP), Closed 17.32, down 1.05

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Dana (DCN), Closed 20.13, down 0.25

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DaimlerChrysler (DCX), Closed 43.00, down 0.08

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Donnelly (DON), Closed 15.70, up 0.10

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Delphi Automotive (DPH), Closed 14.95, down 0.08

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Eaton (ETN), Closed 71.74, down 1.20

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Ford (F), Closed 19.97, down 0.28

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General Motors (GM), Closed 54.40, down 0.20

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Gentex (GNTX), Closed 30.00, down 0.40

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Goodyear (GT), Closed 25.11, up 0.17

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Johnson Controls (JCI), Closed 73.41, down 0.50

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Lear (LEA), Closed 36.67, down 0.40

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Magna International (MGA), Closed 59.31, down 1.54

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Nissan (NSANY), Closed 10.59, down 0.61

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Toyota (TM), Closed 61.17, down 0.58

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TRW (TRW), Closed 35.76, down 0.34

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Visteon (VC), Closed 17.78, up 0.25

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