TCC's Daily Edition: 9/11/01

September 11, 2001

GM OKAYS CADILLAC PERFORMANCE LINE
As first reported by TheCarConnection last month, Cadillac is studying a brand-within-a-brand of high-performance products, much like BMW’s M series. That concept has just been given the go from General Motors’ Automotive Strategy Board, confirms North American chief Ron Zarrella. The initial cost, insiders reveal, will be under $100 million. The first product to market will be a version of the new Cadillac CTS, likely bumped up to somewhere above 325 horsepower, hints brand manager Jay Spenchian. Look for it to hit showrooms in 18 to 24 months. "You have to start with something that really gets peoples’ attention," he says. Specific details are still under study, as is the name Caddy will use. The debate is whether to tie up with a well-known partner, such as Mercedes-Benz did with its AMG line-up, or keep things in house, as BMW did with cars like the M5, and Audi does with its S series.
Preview: 2003 Cadillac CTS by TCC Team (8/20/2001)

 

PIECH SAYS FORD WANTS VW
Auto shows are always terrific storehouses of grist for the rumor mill, and the Frankfurt Motor Show now taking place in Germany should prove no exception. And a recent interview in this week’s Der Spiegel newsmagazine might add some extra fuel. In the interview, Volkswagen AG chairman Ferdinand Piech expressed his worry that Ford Motor Company wants to take over VW. Saying that he had received "concrete indications" of Ford’s interest a year ago, Piech warned German readers that the European Union (EU) might open the door to a hostile takeover of Europe’s biggest carmaker, saying that "we must prepare ourselves so that no one even has the idea."

 

SAAB SETS AGGRESSIVE PLANS
Saab is setting out plans to nearly double current global sales "in the next five-to-six-year timeframe" declared the automaker’s chief executive, Peter Augustsson, during a preview of the Frankfurt Motor Show Monday night. To hit the target of 250,000 vehicles a year will require some aggressive steps, he conceded, noting the Swedish automaker plans to roll out an average one new product a year during that period. That includes a car-based SUV due to market in about 18 months. Augustsson wouldn’t comment on whether the quirky sedan/wagon/pickup show car crossover, the 9X, is in the list of products under development. Among other steps, the automaker intends to set up a series of "Saab Unlimited" dealerships that will emphasize brand-related products and activities. About 100 of the Unlimited dealers outside the U.S. will also carry Cadillac products, as part of the campaign to re-launch Caddy’s global presence.
2001 Saab 9-5 Wagon by Eric Peters (8/27/2001)

 

FORD'S TH!NK AND DAIMLERCHRYSLER'S SMART COMING TO U.S.
North America’s tepid response to electric vehicles has left carmakers scratching their heads and wringing their hands, especially as government regulations keep calling for less pollution and better fuel economy. Ford Motor Company and DaimlerChrysler AG think that they might have an answer to the problem in the old adage "Small is Beautiful." Ford plans on bringing its Th!nk Neighbor electric city car to the U.S. later this year. With a top speed of 25 miles per hour and a 30-mile range, the little Neighbor—coming in two- and four-door versions—truly exists only as an errand and urban commute vehicle. DaimlerChrysler’s two-seat Smart, on the other hand, is a bit more ambitious, coming as it does out of the Mercedes-Benz philosophy of carmaking. Already a hit with the youth of Europe, tiny Smarts powered by gasoline and diesel engines dot the city streets in many German cities. EMotion Mobility of Atlanta, Georgia is buying 15,000 Smarts from DaimlerChrysler in Germany and will convert them to electric for use as short-trip rentals in high-traffic urban areas and transportation centers.
The NEV Next Door? by Frank Bohanan (4/2/2001)
Panoz, DC in Electric-Car Deal? by Marty Padgett (8/20/2001)

 

MICHELIN TO CUT 2,000 JOBS IN NORTH AMERICA
The North American subsidiary of the world’s second largest tiremaker has announced that it will do away with 2,000 jobs—approximately seven percent of its work force—as part of a $200 million cost-cutting program. Michelin North America, Inc. says that it expects the cuts to be felt at each of the company’s 23 North American plants. The company blamed recent downturns in the transportation industry for the changes, reflecting a worldwide slowdown that is forcing Michelin’s parent company in France to pare down its personnel in Europe as well.

 

GM-FIAT JOINT VENTURE PAYING OFF
"We’re a little ahead of where we need to be," said Robert Socia, chairman of GM-Fiat Worldwide Purchasing. That’s one of two joint ventures the manufacturers launched last year. Socia’s operation is aimed at cutting the cost of purchasing parts and components, and the target was a $500 million reduction this year compared to what Fiat and GM would have needed to spend on their own. After five years, Socia noted, the two automakers believe their savings will rise to $2 billion. But he warned that if Fiat and GM don’t step up plans to share components—and possibly to share platforms—"it will be extremely difficult to get to the projected savings."

 

AMERICA SAYS "HANG UP AND DRIVE!" ACCORDING TO POLL
The results of a new Harris poll released by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) indicate that three out four adults in the United States want to see laws enacted restricting the use of cellular telephones while driving. The survey, which also found that two thirds of the nation owns cell phones, found that the cell-phone danger beat out drunk driving and intersection safety as the Number One safety issue that respondents wanted addressed. The AHAS is a consortium of consumer, health, safety and insurance interests.
NY Says Shut Up and Drive by Joseph Szczesny (7/2/2001)

 

LUTZ: I’M JUST CLOSING MY EYES
He only reported for work on September 1st, but Bob Lutz is already making his presence felt inside GM, pouring over product plans, meeting with staff, and injecting his opinions at senior management meetings. During his first session of the General’s powerful Automotive Strategy Board, Lutz set out the basics of how he operates. "I’ve been known to sleep through some of these meetings," the silver-haired 69-year-old told colleagues such as North American chief Ron Zarrella and CFO John Devine. "But even if my eyes are closed, you can expect an insightful question at the end of the meeting." Insiders also reveal Lutz is likely to use his own helicopter to commute to his office at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. So far, however, he hasn’t made any effort to get a helipad installed at GM headquarters in downtown Detroit’s Renaissance Center.
Lutz Bombshell: Headed to GM by TCC Team (8/6/2001)
Lutz: GM "Heading Up" by TCC Team (8/6/2001)

 

 

FACTOIDS:
New-Vehicle Affordability Increasingly Difficult for Younger Buyers

During the past 14 years, the under-35 age group has gone from from a 37.3-percent share of the light vehicle market (1988) to 24.4 percent in 2001--a loss of about one-third. The reduction is even more significant for the under-25 age group who went from 11.2 percent of the market (1988) to 6.0 percent (2001), a reduction of 48 percent. This change in demographics could have major implications for new-vehicle marketing, advertising and promotional programs.

Source: J.D. Power and Associates Power Car and Truck Media Reports

 

 

FROM THE SOURCE:

From PR Newswire Cummins Westport has announced plans for a range of low-emissions natural gas engines for all commercial truck and bus fleets . . . Automotive analysts at Frost & Sullivan are forecasting that the market for automotive maintenance services will experience steady growth throughout the decade, surpassing $29 billion by 2007 . . . Goodyear is the Number One supplier of runflat tires in the world . . . In Frankfurt, Delphi Automotive Systems has launched the first compact, fully-integrated electronic unit fuel injector

THE TICKER:

Autoliv (ALV), Closed 19.40, down 0.38

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ArvinMeritor (ARM), Closed 16.10, down 0.07

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American Axle (AXL), Closed 17.40, down 0.49

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Ballard Power Systems (BLDP), Closed 17.40, up 0.74

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Dana (DCN), Closed 18.24, down 0.71

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DaimlerChrysler (DCX), Closed 39.60, down 1.18

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Donnelly (DON), Closed 15.32, up 0.07

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Delphi Automotive (DPH), Closed 14.05, up 0.01

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Eaton (ETN), Closed 69.95, up 0.35

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Ford (F), Closed 19.40, up 0.64

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General Motors (GM), Closed 51.58, up 0.18

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Gentex (GNTX), Closed 28.00, down 1.31

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Goodyear (GT), Closed 22.92, down 0.58

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Johnson Controls (JCI), Closed 70.05, down 0.05

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Lear (LEA), Closed 33.85, down 1.10

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Magna International (MGA), Closed 55.49, up 0.59

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Nissan (NSANY), Closed 11.50, up 0.50

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Toyota (TM), Closed 60.40, down 0.60

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TRW (TRW), Closed 33.89, up 0.65

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Visteon (VC), Closed 16.15, down 0.47

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