TODAY’S TOP STORIES
VUE: NEW VISION FOR SATURN?
It was meant to be the American answer to the Japanese small car. But after an auspicious introduction, General Motors has allowed its Saturn brand to languish, raising serious questions about its long-term viability. So all eyes will be on the VUE, Saturn’s third and newest model, when it makes its debut next month. With trucks and crossovers now accounting for half the American market, this car-based sport-ute is likely to be the most significant Saturn since the marque’s 1989 debut. But it will be essential for the automaker to avoid the sort of mistakes made two years ago, with the botched launch of the midsize L-Series sedans and wagons. Publisher TCC Team has the word on how Saturn is using its new VUE to reinvent the brand.
VUE: Saturn’s Vision of the Future?
UAW TO BIG 3: NO CONCESSIONS
None of the Big Three has yet approached the UAW about relaxing some of the agreements forged during last year’s contract negotiations. But in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 and an already sluggish, incentive-driven market, some analysts see concessions as one avenue for the automakers to explore in the coming months to restore profits. But the United Auto Workers has delivered a blunt message to the U.S. automakers – there will be no concessions.
UAW Says No to Concessions:
FORD’S Q1 2002: MORE QUALITY?
Ford Motor Co. has instituted a new quality standard for itself and its suppliers called Q1 2002. The move comes on the heels of a memo from dealers, blaming poor sales on poor product quality and laying that blame at the feet of embattled president and CEO Jacques Nasser. The new process is considered a “back-to-basics quality process,” designed to work with suppliers to help the company improve its quality and ensure quality components are coming from suppliers. Additionally, the company has a clearly defined set of metrics aimed at eliminating any confusion. Ford will employ a stringent site assessment program to ensure that participants are adhering to those metrics.
Is Q1 2002 the Answer?
FOUNDERING FREIGHTLINER FIXED?
A $330 million revamping of DaimlerChrysler’s Freightliner division also will cost the company 18 percent of its workforce, the company announced on Friday. Three of the subsidiary’s plants will be closed — those in Woodstock, Ont.; Kelowna, B.C.; and Portland, Ore. — and some 2700 employees will be furloughed. With the cuts, DaimlerChrysler estimates that Freightliner will break even in 2002 and turn a profit the following year, despite a massive slump in heavy-truck sales.
DC: Losses, Cuts, and Hope? by Joseph Szczesny (4/30/2001)
EUROPEAN REGISTRATIONS STILL STABLE
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 showed little effect on Western European car registrations in September, according to Reuters reports. The news agency said that the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said that September registrations were up by 3.1 percent over 2000 figures, to more than 1.3 million units. However, Reuters adds, the full effect of the attacks may not be known until the October figures come out, since many European automakers have since announced production cuts. For the year, European registrations are down 0.5 percent; Britain’s sales climate is particularly strong, as are sales by the PSA Group, which includes Peugeot and Citroen.
HONDA OUT OF CART
Adding to the woes of the CART open-wheel racing series, Honda now says it won’t field a team after the 2002 season, citing recent rules changes that make it prohibitively expensive to develop a new, competitive engine. CART’s new 3.5-liter engine specifications, says Honda, won’t enable it to develop an entirely new engine while continuing work apace on its current race engine. "This decision is a great disappointment to Honda as we have informed CART from the beginning of the process that it is impossible to supply a new engine conforming to their proposed specifications prior to the 2004 season," said Tom Elliott, Honda’s president of performance development, said in a statement. Since 1994, Honda has won 60 races and three championships in the series.
DELPHI SETS SEMA STAGE
A slew of new technologies will populate Delphi’s stand at the Specialty Equipment Marketers’ Association (SEMA) convention at the end of the month in Las Vegas. On hand will be Delphi’s integrated safety-system concept, which equips a vehicle with eye-tracking sensors that keep track of driver alertness and software to help perform driving tasks; environmental technologies such as solid-oxide fuel cells and common-rail diesel engines; and more prosaic pieces of technology like aftermarket air conditioning, maintenance-free batteries and shock absorbers.
TODAY’S AUTO FACT
Vehicle owners in the New England states spend more per mile to own and operate their vehicles than anywhere else in the U.S., according to a cost analysis prepared for the AAA by Runzheimer International, the Rochester, Wisc.-based consulting firm. Based on the blended costs of owning and operating a typical compact, intermediate, and full-size vehicle, New Englanders (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) pay 52.2 cents per mile. Drivers in the Western states (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY) pay nearly as much, 52.0 cents per mile (see Table). These costs are based on operating costs: fuel, oil, tires, maintenance; and ownership costs: insurance, depreciation, license & registration fees, taxes, and financing. It is assumed the vehicles are driven 15,000 miles per year and traded-in after four years. The least expensive region of the U.S. to drive is the Southeast (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN) where it is only 49.4 cents to own and operate these same vehicles. The national average, according to the Runzheimer calculations, is 51.2 cents per mile. The Mid-Atlantic states (DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA, VA, WV) most nearly mirror the national average at 51.8 cents per mile.
FROM THE SOURCE
DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group has kicked off National Diversity Week to celebrate and honor the unique talents of its workforce. With the theme "Many Talents, One Company, Winning Together," this week long event is intended to celebrate, honor and educate employees about the importance of diversity in the workplace and community…DaimlerChrysler Services North America, the financial services arm of DaimlerChrysler AG, will move its headquarters to 27777 Inkster Road in Farmington Hills, Mich. The building has capacity to house 1,300 employees…The 1986 Wrangler sponsored Chevrolet NASCAR, driven by the late Dale Earnhardt during his first NASCAR Winston Cup Championship winning year, will be offered for sale at No Reserve at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, January 17th - 20th, 2002.
Autoliv (ALV), Closed 16.59, up 0.43
ArvinMeritor (ARM), Closed 15.70, down 0.72
American Axel (AXL), Closed 15.19, down 0.33
Ballard Power Systems (BLDP), Closed 24.60, down 0.02
Borg-Warner (BWA), Closed 44.12, down 0.53
Collins & Aikman (CKC), 7.14, down 0.16
Cummins (CUM), Closed 33.91, down 1.52
Dana (DCN) Closed 15.23, down 0.17
DaimlerChrysler (DCX) Closed 34.81, down 0.87
Donnelly (DON) Closed 12.90, down 0.15
Delphi Automotive (DPH), Closed 12.99, up 0.18
Eaton (ETN), Closed 68.51, down 1.62
Ford Motor Co. (F), Closed 17.73, down 0.27
General Motors (GM), Closed 44.18, down 0.75
Gentex (GNTX), Closed 27.99, up 0.04
Goodyear (GT), Closed 19.14, up 0.21
Johnson Controls (JCI), Closed 71.75, down 0.36
Lear (LEA), Closed 31.24, down 0.25
Magna International (MGA), Closed 54.51, down 0.74
Motorola (MOT), Closed 17.64, up 0.29
Nissan (NSANY), Closed 9.80, down 0.10
Tower Automotive (TWR), Closed 6.75, down 0.05
Toyota (TM), Closed 52.95, down 2.15
TRW (TRW), Closed 33.38, down 0.51
Visteon (VC), Closed 14.11, down 0.17