Driver's News: 11/05/01

November 5, 2001

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Those zero-percent financing deals threw rocket fuel on October’s U.S. auto sales. Most brands reported strong sales, some even without the benefit of the special financing deals. GM and Ford experienced record sales for trucks and passenger cars, respectively. Some of the highlights of October’s sales included the following:

·         General Motors: an overall increase of 31 percent, with a 47-percent rise in truck sales and 15-percent more car sales

·         Ford: sales rose 36 percent, with cars up 40.5 percent and trucks up 34 percent. The F-150 and Focus set monthly records, while the Explorer set a record for October.

·         Chrysler: as a group, sales rose 5 percent. Car sales were down 1.5 percent, while trucks rose 7.2 percent. The Liberty and PT Cruiser set monthly records.

·         Toyota, up 27.5 percent

·         Subaru: up 12.4 percent, with the Impreza up 116 percent.

·         Hyundai: up 85 percent

·         Kia, up 79 percent

·         Nissan: up seven percent, with Altima up 40 percent

·         Mitsubishi, up 17.6 percent, its best October ever

·         Volkswagen, up 10.7 percent, with the Passat up 34.3 percent

·         Mercedes-Benz dropped 0.3 percent, though the C-Class jumped 56.6 percent

A few brands did drop, including Volvo and BMW, with single-percent drops in sales.

Sept. Sales Slump, Recover by Joseph Szczesny (10/8/2001)



The following are the top 20 selling vehicles in the U.S. in October, as reported by Reuters:


1 Ford F-Series                  753,280 

2 Chevrolet Silverado         591,224

3 Honda Accord                 355,333 

4 Ford Explorer                   348,095 

5 Toyota Camry                 328,169 

6 Ford Taurus                    308,512 

7 Honda Civic                    287,758 

8 Dodge Ram                     287,344 

9 Ford Ranger                    239,768 

10 Ford Focus                    234,054 

11 Toyota Corolla               209,361 

12 Dodge Caravan              204,952 

13 Chevrolet Cavalier          204,822 

14 Jeep Grand Cherokee      182,530 

15 Chevrolet Impala            178,260 

16 GMC Sierra                    172,329 

17 Chevrolet Tahoe            167,980 

18 Pontiac Grand Am           164,282 

19 Chevrolet Malibu            159,172 

20 Ford Windstar                151,692 



Your next vehicle could come with a child-restraint safety rating, if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) goes ahead with a rating system it’s opened for public comment. The agency, indirectly headed by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, says the goal is to better inform consumers ready to purchase a new vehicle that’s safe for children: "We want to help consumers make informed decisions when purchasing child safety seats and make sure that children are well-protected when riding in motor vehicles," said Mineta. The ratings — which will likely include information on crash safety and ease of use of child-safety equipment — are due to be available by this time next year.

TCC Tip: Schooltime Safety by Carol Traeger (8/13/2001)


Following similar announcements by General Motors and DaimlerChrysler, Ford is continuing the zero-percent financing deals that have shored up its sales since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Ford’s program, like Chrysler’s, now has limitations; the cheap financing isn’t available on the popular Escape sport-ute, for example. Some industry analysts, and even Ford’s chief spokesman, are questioning the wisdom of the industry-wide push for sales: "How long can the industry continue to do this?" Ford communications VP Jason Vines told Reuters. "After a while you're going to suck all the sales out of 2002." The deals are scheduled to last at Ford through Nov. 20; at GM through the 18th; and at Chrysler through the 19th.
Ford Loses $692 Million in Q3 by Joseph Szczesny (10/22/2001)


Besting General Motors by a day, the Chrysler Group says it will continue its zero-percent financing on 2002 models to Nov. 19th. The deals, announced in late September after similar deals came from GM and Ford, are not available on some of the company’s newest models, such as the Jeep Liberty, Chrysler PT Cruiser and all the company’s minivans. "With the addition of zero-percent APR financing, traffic as well as sales improved significantly and we look forward to continuing this momentum," said Jim Schroer, Executive Vice President - Global Sales and Marketing, in a statement.


Count Suzuki in with the zero-percent deals – until the end of the year. As it continues its zero-percent deals for 2001 models through the end of the year, it’s also adding its 2002 models to the mix, including the brand-new seven-passenger XL-7. Like the similar deals from Ford and Chrysler, the interest rate does creep up on loans with a longer term than 36 months. "These finance programs have placed us in a very competitive position," said American Suzuki president, Rick Suzuki.



General Motors plans to launch a new sport-utility truck for its GMC lineup that will help further differentiate the trucks-only brand from its sibling Chevrolet division.  Based on the same platform as the GMC Envoy, the pickup/SUV crossover will borrow the folding midgate now used by the Chevy Avalanche and Cadillac EXT.  The unnamed vehicle, due to market in roughly two years, was one of three new models disclosed by GM North America President Ron Zarrella during an appearance at the Specialty Equipment Marketer’s Association (SEMA) convention in Las Vegas. GM also plans to launch a crossover vehicle to replace an existing Chevy truck, Zarrella hinted.  And a hatchback-like version of the Chevrolet Malibu is also in the works.  Meanwhile, Zarrella confirmed Cadillac will launch an all-new line of high-performance models aimed at competing with the likes of BMW’s M-Series, a plan first published by Daily Edition two months ago.  A performance CTS will come first, and eventually, most Caddys will offer high-power versions.
GM Utes: Defining A Niche by TCC Team (2/3/2001)


On the powertrain side, GM confirmed it will shortly introduce two all-new V-6 engine families, including one that will provide the power for the performance CTS.  The mainstream overhead-valve engine will be capable of Displacement-on-Demand, a feature allowing a bank of cylinders to shut up when power demand is low, significantly improving fuel economy. The second line will be a performance DOHC family replacing the current engine line now used in the CTS.



Like GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi says it will extend its zero-percent financing deals through the end of November. The Mitsu plan is unique in that it gives buyers a choice of zero-percent financing on any of its vehicles, or no money down and no payments until 2003. MMSA President and Chief Operating Officer Pierre Gagnon said in a statement, "It's an important incentive during this period of uncertainty…at the same time, it's a sign of our absolute confidence in the future of the American economy."

Chrysler, Mitsu Move Closer by Joseph Szczesny (9/10/2001)


One million Ford vehicles will be recalled to repair a problem in the windshield-wiper motor, the company announced on Wednesday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that a switch inside the wiper motor could overheat, causing a malfunction and potentially, the loss of wiper function. The 1.08 million vehicles involved in the recall include some 2000-2001 Ford Tauruses, Expeditions, Focuses, Excursions, and full-size trucks; Lincoln Continentals, Town Cars and Navigators; and some Mercury Sables.


The company that builds more hearses than any other car company says that the next generation of young aftermarket buyers is its biggest asset. John Smith, VP of GM’s Service Parts Operations, told audiences at the Las Vegas Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show, that GM has a three-pronged strategy to win over those budding hot rodders: working with parts manufacturers to license accessories and equipment, build crossover vehicles like the upcoming Pontiac Vibe that appeal to younger buyers, and selling those young buyers GM-made performance parts. “These customers are sparking the development of new and innovative products that are easier to purchase, operate and maintain in the aftermarket business," he said.
Preview: GM's '02 Concepts by TCC Team (8/20/2001)



2002 QX4 PRICED AT $34,150
Nissan’s luxury Infiniti brand has announced pricing for the 2002 QX4 sport-utility vehicle. The all-wheel drive model’s Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is unchanged at $35,550, while the rear-drive truck has an MSRP of $34,150. The 2002 vehicle has a new audio system with RDS capability, a new steering wheel with wood inserts, and laser-aided cruise control.

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