TCC’s Daily Edition: 12/12/01

December 11, 2001

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HUMMER H2 ON SALE IN JULY

2003 Hummer H2

2003 Hummer H2

GM unveiled the Hummer H2, the first product of its investment in AM General. The new truck is essentially a Hummer shape grafted on a heavily modified GM heavy-duty truck platform, with a 325-hp, 6.0-liter V-8 and heavy-duty four-speed transmission. A full-time four-wheel-drive system with a locking rear differential is standard; two tire packages will be offered, a softer highway set and a triple-sidewall set for extreme off-roading. A luxurious interior with CD stereos, power windows and leather seats will be standard with each H2, which is entering pilot production soon in Mishawaka, Ind., and goes on sale in July for $50,000-$55,000. Stay tuned to TCC for a full story on the H2.
Hummer Humming New Tune by Jim Burt (8/13/2001)

ROAD TEST: 2002 JAGUAR XJ8 VANDEN PLAS

2002 Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas

2002 Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas

The 2002 Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas evokes giant American sedans of the past, with its long hood, genuinely spacious interior, and silent V-8 that effortlessly floats the car up hills, and the most important ingredient – a suspension that prevents the outside world from intruding on the car’s occupants. The big Jag swallowed railroad tracks – railroad tracks – without a hiccup. The XJ8 also possesses the uniquely Jaguar ability to attract women like raccoons to a campground dumpster.
2002 Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas by Dan Carney (12/10/2001)

CHRYSLER UNVEILS NATRIUM FUEL CELL VEHICLE
While the first "production" fuel cell vehicles will hit the road by 2004, most observers don't expect serious volumes for another decade or more. Improving fuel cell technology is only part of the cost. An equal challenge is finding a way to produce and then store the hydrogen FCVs run on. Chrysler's prototype Natrium minivan unveils a new approach. Other FCVs either store hydrogen in liquid or gaseous form, or produce it out of more conventional fuels, like gasoline. Natrium, however, uses a chemical called sodium boro-hydride, a hydrogen-rich form of the cleanser, borox. A simple onboard reformer splits off the H2 needed for the fuel cells, and the used chemical slurry is then stored, so it can be pumped off the vehicle and recycled. Natrium combines the fuel cell system with regenerative braking and batteries, yielding a top speed of 80 mph and a range of 300 miles. It will make its debut at the Detroit Auto Show next month.

EXPLORER BESTS CRASH TESTS
The industry-funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the newest Explorer earned its top rating in crash tests, while the Jeep Liberty and Isuzu Rodeo got marginal ratings. The tests crash vehicles into a barrier at 40 mph, five mph faster than those conducted by the federal government. Ford had asked the IIHS to delay its test so that it could make modifications to the Explorer’s structure. Along with the Explorer, four other SUVs — the BMW X5, the Acura MDX, the Lexus RX 300 and the Mercedes M-Class — were awarded the highest rating.
Ford Begins Tough Struggle by TCC Team (12/10/2001)

CAR THEFT UP IN 2000
Following a ten-year decline, car theft is on the rise in the U.S. once more, climbing 1.2 percent in 2000, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The industry-funded organization says 1.17 million cars were reported stolen last year, based on statistics from the FBI. The top ten stolen cars reads like a who’s who of the best-sellers list: the Toyota Camry was the most stolen vehicle, followed by the Honda Accord, Honda’s Civic and the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. A complete list can be found on the institute’s Web site,//www.greencarreports.com
TCC Tip: Hands Off, Crooks by Bengt Halvorson (1/19/2001)

TOP LUXURY MAKES COMING INTO FOCUS
In the race for the luxury crown this year, it appears Lexus will once again finish first. But in second place, BMW looks to be in position to overtake Mercedes-Benz, thanks to strong sales of the X5 sport-ute, according to a Bloomberg report. The news service says Lexus has sold more than 200,000 vehicles through November, putting it far enough ahead of the pack to ensure a comfortable victory. Last year’s second-place brand, Benz, is up only slightly this year and lags BMW in sales through November by more than 8000 vehicles. Rounding out the top six: Cadillac, Acura, and fading Lincoln.

TOYOTA BUILDING WEB SUB-DIVISION
A Reuters interview with Jim Press, the CEO of Toyota’s U.S. sales operations, quotes the exec as saying Toyota will set up a third brand and sell vehicles over the Internet. The name of the nascent brand hasn’t been picked yet, but Press says the model for the new division will be the hybrid Prius sedan, which is sold only over the Internet. While the new brand won’t be a standalone division like Lexus, it will have separate vehicle delivery procedures meant to encourage younger buyers. Toyota’s efforts at reaching out to younger buyers in the U.S. have resulted in the Matrix crossover wagon and the MR2 Spyder convertible, but to this point the vehicles haven’t been marketed as a sub-division.
KEVIN SMITH IS MOTOR TREND EDITOR
Kevin Smith, Manager of Editorial Development for Motor Trend magazine in recent months, has not surprisingly been named Editor in Chief of the magazine. The affable Smith, 49, will take over editorial duties immediately, replacing C. Van Tune, who resigned in a notoriously visible huff in October. Smith, a former editor at Car and Driver and Automobile, also has done account work for Team One and Lexus.

FROM THE SOURCE

From PR Newswire

Nissan's VQ engine has been named for the eighth-straight year by the editors of Ward's Communications Inc. as one of the "10 Best Engines" available in the U.S. automotive market. No other engine has received the honor every year that the list has been compiled by the editors of Ward's Auto World and Ward's Engine and Vehicle Technology Update.

Travelers who need an extra hand as they plan their holiday trips have a new online source for car rentals.Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. today unveiled the new avis.com, a more efficient, energetic and helpful version of its already successful predecessor. The new site kicks off with a promotion that offers customers up to $25 off on a future Avis rental for registering on the site, as well as other deals like Avis' "Home for the Holiday" rates that begin at $20 per day for a compact car.

Magna International Inc. announced today that its Magna Steyr Group has commenced negotiations with DaimlerChrysler concerning the acquisition of its Eurostar facility, which is adjacent to Magna Steyr's existing assembly operation in Graz, Austria. The Eurostar facility currently assembles the Chrysler Voyager minivan and PT Cruiser for markets outside North America. Under all the alternatives being discussed, a majority of Chrysler products would continue to be assembled within the combined Magna Steyr and Eurostar facilities at Graz thereby increasing the efficiency of production of DaimlerChrysler products.

One of America's most enduring periodicals, "Popular Mechanics," is celebrating its centennial in 2002, with a year-long commemoration of a magazine with tremendous appeal to readers whose first love is technology. The tribute begins with its January 2002 issue - on sale this week -- and will follow through December 2002.

Recognizing major contributions to the world of automotive design,Eyes On Design/Detroit will honor the automotive designers who have created the most significant automotive designs on display at the 2002 North American International Auto Show. This second annual designer event will be held January 9, 2002 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan. Over 300 automotive designers and executives from throughout the world are expected to attend.

Toyota released its first comprehensive North America Environmental Report today, detailing the company's progress and plans in the design, manufacture, sale and recycling of vehicles. The report was released at Toyota's second environmental seminar, held in conjunction with the Electric Vehicle Association of the Americas (EVAA) Electric Transportation Industry Conference in Sacramento, California. At the seminar, Hiroyuki Watanabe, Toyota Motor Corporation Senior Managing Director, announced that the U.S. would receive a significant increase from Prius' initial allotment to meet growing demand in the U.S. The increase will bring the annual number of the world's first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid vehicle available to 17,000.

From BusinessWire:

ThisChristmas-New Year's holiday 53.7 million Americans plan to travel 50 miles or more from home, a 6 percent decline over last year's 57.1 million people, according to AAA. Approximately 42.2 million travelers expect to go by motor vehicle this holiday, a 1 percent drop from the 42.7 million who took a trip last year. Another 11.5 million will travel by airplane, train or bus, down 20 percent from the 14.4 million who traveled last Christmas. "The current recession and the nation's unemployment situation are the major contributors to the expected decline in holiday travel although continued concerns about air travel security by some Americans also are a factor," said AAA Travel Vice President Sandra Hughes.

THE TICKER

Autoliv (ALV), Closed 18.80, down 0.07

AutoNation (AN), Closed 11.50, down 0.10

ArvinMeritor (ARM), Closed 18.68, up 0.16

American Axle (AXL), Closed 19.02, down 1.00

Ballard Power Systems (BLDP), Closed 30.55, down 0.35

Borg-Warner (BWA), Closed 49.55, up 0.43

Collins & Aikman (CKC), Closed 9.00, up 0.02

Cummins (CUM), Closed 38.18, down 0.05

Dana (DCN) Closed 13.74, down 0.31

DaimlerChrysler (DCX) Closed 40.99, down 0.75

Donnelly (DON) Closed 13.25, up 0.05

Delphi Automotive (DPH), Closed 13.11, down 0.28

Eaton (ETN), Closed 73.11, up 0.11

Ford Motor Co. (F), Closed 16.66, unchanged

General Motors (GM), Closed 48.65, down 1.69

Gentex (GNTX), Closed 27.31, up 0.26

Goodyear (GT), Closed 23.33, up 0.76

Honda Motor (HMC), Closed 76.12, up 0.37

Johnson Controls (JCI), Closed 79.10, up 0.04

Lear (LEA), Closed 36.66, down 0.02

Magna International (MGA), Closed 63.60, down 1.26

Motorola (MOT), Closed 16.82, down 0.17

Nissan (NSANY), Closed 9.96, down 0.06

Sonic Automotive, Closed 21.71, down 0.04

Tower Automotive (TWR), Closed 8.29, down 0.10

Toyota (TM), Closed 48.70, down 0.34

TRW (TRW), Closed 39.61, up 0.23

UnitedAuto Group, Closed 20.00, up 1.22

Visteon (VC), Closed 14.65, down 0.11

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