TCC’s Daily Edition: 11/27/01

November 26, 2001

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AUTO SALES COULD REMAIN STRONG
The new car market may not take nearly as sharp a plunge as expected once zero-interest loan programs wrap up, Ford COO Nick Scheele tells TheCarConnection. That runs counter to what most analysts have been forecasting, with some expecting sales to slump to as low as 14 million, in part because this year’s incentives could be “borrowing” sales from 2002. “It really is entirely possible,” Scheele concedes. “There’s got to be some payback,” unless zero-rate incentives prove so effective, “they stimulate the whole economy.” That might more than offset pull-ahead sales lost during an otherwise weak year, according to Scheele. Supporting that theory, he points to the recent upturn in overall retail economic activity, which was largely the result of surging car sales. So far, Ford analysts estimate that the zero-interest loans have pulled ahead about 750,000 units of car and truck sales from 2002.
Zero Percent Stays at GM, Ford by Joseph Szczesny (11/19/2001)

FORD UNVEILS ’03 LINCOLN TOWN CAR

2003 Lincoln Town Car

2003 Lincoln Town Car

Ford is taking a step forward into the past with an old-is-new Lincoln Car. Stung by criticism of the current, jellybean-styled Town Car, Ford is rushing a revised model into production next spring. The ’03 Lincoln four-door goes retro, borrowing heavily from the previous-generation, slab-sided sedan. “We’ve squared it off,” noted Ford’s design director, J Mays, adding that future Lincolns will go even further in that direction. The boxy shape has a practical purpose, significantly improving trunk space, which was perhaps the single most common complaint about the current Town Car. Ford engineers promise the ’03 model’s new frame, brakes and front suspension will maintain the Town Car’s cushy ride while significantly improving steering and handling. As many as half of the sedans are sold as limousines and fleet vehicles.
TCC 2002 Buyer’s Guide: Lincoln by Bob Plunkett (10/1/2001)

NISSAN ON NEW QUEST IN DETROIT

Nissan Quest Concept

Nissan Quest Concept

With its minivan partnership with Ford about to expire, Nissan said yesterday that it’s planning a brand-new minivan of its own for the 2004 model year. The Quest Concept, to be shown at January’s Detroit auto show, will point the direction for the next Quest, which apparently doesn’t share any parts with the Renault Espace, as has been rumored around town. The six-seat Quest Concept, Nissan says in a release, will be a departure from typical minivan styling, with flowing lines and 20-inch wheels. The tailgate is powered, and the roof is largely glass, for better cabin illumination. The current Quest and the nearly identical Mercury Villager — built on the same assembly line in Avon Lake, Ohio — are set to exit their respective lineups after the 2002 model year.
Driving Forces: Product is King by TCC Team (11/19/2001)

WTC VEHICLE LOSSES STAGGER NY
The world is still reeling from the unthinkable terrorist attacks September 11 on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and the thousands of innocent people thus murdered in cold blood. Yet there is an amazing story, untold until now, of vehicles lost. TheCarConnection, after all, is a car magazine whose readers look for the automotive stories they can't find elsewhere, where the concentration naturally has been on the human aspects of the attacks.According to American Heritage magazine, the terrorist attacks may have produced the greatest loss of life — thought at first to be 6000, now estimated at around 4000 lives – in America in a single incident since the Battle of Antietam in 1864. And the World Trade Center losses represent the largest aggregate claims in the world history of insurance. TCC’s Mike Davis reports on the automotive fallout from Sept. 11 today at TheCarConnection.com:
Sept. 11: The Auto Aftermath by Mike Davis (11/26/2001)

CHRYSLER’S PT MIATA?
The PT Miata? Sure, says TCC’s Lesley Hazleton. “Now that Chrysler knows it has a hit with its PT Cruiser, it's turning to the Miata guidebook to figure out how to keep the car hot once the order book is filled.”Mazda, she says, has done that brilliantly with the Miata —and Chrysler can follow the same course with the PT Cruiser. “Chrysler got the original PT design right. They got the price right too. Quality? Probably too early to tell. But that fourth issue -- the limited editions -- is one where Chrysler seems determined to outdo Mazda.” Read up on her PT Miata thoughts today at TheCarConnection.com:
Cargirl: The PT Miata? by Lesley Hazleton (11/26/2001)

COVISINT GETS NEW CFO
Paul Kothari is Covisint’s new chief financial officer, the company announced on Monday. Kothari last headed (and co-founded) Comstellar Technologies, a New Jersey-based software company; prior to that he held the CFO slot at TheStreet.com. Covisint, set up as an Internet-based supplier clearinghouse for the Big Three, now counts, GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Nissan, Renault and Peugeot among its automotive members.

ISUZU IN THE RED IN ’01; JOB CUTS TO TOTAL 13,000
Isuzu continues to bleed red ink. On Monday, the company said it would show a net loss for 2001 and would add 3300 more pink slips to the 9700 job cuts it had announced earlier in the year. The Japanese truck and sport-ute maker, of which GM owns 49 percent, posted a Japanese fiscal first-half loss of $189.4 million, slightly higher than last year’s first-half results. At the beginning of the year, the company had predicted a profit for the full financial year; a 2001 loss would make Isuzu’s third losing year in a row.

PARIS 2002 LINES UP
With Detroit’s annual extravaganza yet a month away, European auto publications are already speculating on next year’s Paris show debuts. According to the French enthusiast magazine Auto Plus, the following cars will be presented at the Mondial de l'Automobile in Paris next September:

Audi A3

New BMW Z3

Citroën C3 Pluriel and Evasion II monospaces

Ferrari F60 prototype

Fiat Stilo Weekend (station wagon)

Ford Streetka and Fusion

DaimlerChrysler Maybach

New Nissan Micra

Opel Vectra and Corsa minivans

Peugeot 307 sedan, station wagon and coupe-cabriolet, and 807 monospace

Renault Espace 5 monospace and new Mégane

Porsche Cayenne sport utility

Volkswagen D1 luxury car, Colorado sport utility and Golf monospace

-- William Diem

FOCUS ON THE RECALL WAGON AGAIN
Ford’s Focus is the company’s latest model to be recalled. Some 279,646 Foci — 2000 and 2001 model-year vehicles, all — are being recalled over a rear-wheel seal that can corrode and cause the rear wheel assembly to vibrate and wobble. The vehicles are being recalled in 21 nasty-weather states and six Canadian provinces. The latest recall is the 2000 Focus’ seventh since it went on sale in 1999.

EU CARMAKERS AGREE ON PEDESTRIAN SAFETY
European automakers have convinced the member nations’ governments that they can design vehicles to cause fewer injuries to pedestrians in accidents. Beginning next year, European carmakers will undertake such measures as removing bull bars as optional equipment and making anti-lock braking standard on all vehicles, the Reuters news service reports. "The EU states have decided to favor a voluntary system under the agreement that all the necessary requirements are met by the industry," Per Haugaard, a spokesman for the European Commission, told Reuters.

CEPPOS IS NEW AUTOWEEK PUBLISHER
Rich Ceppos, veteran of several major car monthlies, has been named to succeed Leon Mandel as publisher of AutoWeek magazine. Ceppos last held a vice-presidency at Campbell & Co., a Dearborn-based public relations and marketing communications firm. Prior to his post at Campbell, Ceppos was executive editor of Automobile magazine and, before that, executive editor at Car and Driver. Mandel becomes AutoWeek’s publisher emeritus.

TODAY’S AUTO FACT

Sixty-two percent of all new-vehicle buyers are turning to the Internet for automotive information while shopping for their vehicle — and the average consumer tries out 6.8 auto Web sites before they buy, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2001 New Autoshopper.com Study released on Monday. The number of auto Internet shoppers rose eight percent, from 54 percent in 2000. Of the sites visited, independent sites were most often selected for pricing information.

Source: J.D. Power and Associates

FROM THE SOURCE

FromPR Newswire:TheChildren's Center and WJR-AM 760 are teaming up to host a 20-day on-air auction, beginning today through Dec. 21. Each weekday during that period, listeners can bid on a wide range of items, including a 2002 Ford Thunderbird and 2002 Chrysler Prowler. Funds raised from the auction will support The Children's Center…Lear Corporation today announced it has been awarded a U.S. patent for an improved acoustical system which is 40 to 60 percent lighter in weight with equal or better noise reduction capability than conventional automotive products. The patent represents a major step forward in protecting Lear's proprietary position in its acoustical technology sold under its brand name SonoTec(TM) covering four unique products using patented materials and technologies integrated into vehicle floor systems, dash insulators, wheelhouse covers, and headliners. The total market for acoustical products is estimated at $1.5 billion annually.

From BusinessWire:Carfax, the leading provider of vehicle history reports, unveiled today a new feature on Carfax.com--the "Problem Car Alert." This new tool allows website visitors to instantly obtain a top ten list of vehicles in their area with bad histories. Consumers can access the "Problem Car Alert" service atwww.carfax.com by clicking on the "Free Services/Problem Car Alert" link in the footer. Based on the entered zip code, Carfax instantly pulls a list of cars in that area with questionable title histories.

THE TICKER

Autoliv (ALV), Closed 19.93, up 0.83

ArvinMeritor (ARM), Closed 18.47, up 0.42

American Axle (AXL), Closed 18.40, down 0.30

Ballard Power Systems (BLDP), Closed 28.66, down 0.88

Borg-Warner (BWA), Closed 46.10, down 0.34

Collins & Aikman (CKC), Closed 7.60, unchanged

Cummins (CUM), Closed 36.40, up 0.72

Dana (DCN) Closed 13.35, up 0.02

DaimlerChrysler (DCX) Closed 44.27, up 1.08

Donnelly (DON) Closed 13.21, down 0.06

Delphi Automotive (DPH), Closed 13.56, up 0.17

Eaton (ETN), Closed 70.84, up 0.93

Ford Motor Co. (F), Closed 18.58, up 0.70

General Motors (GM), Closed 48.61, up 0.92

Gentex (GNTX), Closed 25.75, down 0.66

Goodyear (GT), Closed 22.43, up 0.03

Honda Motor (HMC), Closed 79.21, up 2.71

Johnson Controls (JCI), Closed 80.51, up 0.46

Lear (LEA), Closed 35.13, unchanged

Magna International (MGA), Closed 61.55, up 0.26

Motorola (MOT), Closed 17.96, up 0.29

Nissan (NSANY), Closed 10.07, up 0.38

Tower Automotive (TWR), Closed 7.78, down 0.36

Toyota (TM), Closed 53.19, down 0.52

TRW (TRW), Closed 38.95, down 0.04

Visteon (VC), Closed 14.01, up 0.02

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