Consumer Car News: 1/7/02

January 7, 2002


Honda Model X Concept

Honda Model X Concept

Honda’s barrage of new product in 2002 will begin and end in an unconventional way, the company hinted at yesterday’s L.A. auto show press conference. The company will launch five new models in calendar year 2002, says sales chief Dick Colliver. First out of the box will be a 50-mpg Civic with a hybrid powertrain similar in principle to the Insight; a Civic Si hatchback built in England follows in spring. The Honda Pilot will be the brand’s first eight-passenger SUV when it is launched later in the year. The Model X, the funky SUV with center swing-out side doors and a flat load floor designed for active younger buyers, will enter production before the end of the year. And the venerable Accord is to be replaced by an all-new and, Honda says, dramatically new model in the fall.
’02 Los Angeles Show, Day I by TCC Team (1/3/2002)


It’s official – 2001 was the second-best sales year ever for new cars and trucks. The total of 17.18 million vehicles finished just behind 2000’s tally of 17.4 million vehicles. As automakers are reporting December sales figures, some clear winners have emerged from last year’s rollercoaster economic ride:

·         For the year, Chrysler dropped just under 10 percent; while GM’s sales fell by about a percent and Ford’s sank six percent.

·         Ford’s F-Series range sold more than 911,000 copies, continuing its 20-year truck dominance;

·         Toyota had its best year ever, as it sold 7.5 percent more vehicles than in 2000;

·         Honda’s Accord became the best-selling car in America for the first time in a decade;

·         Hyundai reported a 42-percent increase in vehicle sales;

·         Among luxury brands, Lexus took the overall sales crown, while BMW passed Mercedes-Benz for second place;

·         And for the first time, as TCC reported last week, trucks took more than half of all U.S. sales — 50.9 percent of the total new-vehicle market.
Trucks Set To Pass Cars by Joseph Szczesny (12/31/2001)


While it’s discontinuing its zero-percent financing deals, General Motors says it will offer buyers a $2002 rebate on any 2002 model-year vehicle bought or leased. (In response, Chrysler says it won’t match the new round of incentives.) With GM abandoning its zero-interest loan program in favor of new cash rebates, many industry analysts now expect a sharp decline in U.S. auto sales in the coming months. The automaker's own forecast calls for a drop of more than one million units this year, to something over 15 million vehicles. But Bob Lutz, Chairman of GM's North American operations, is turning cautiously bullish. "My personal feeling is things have bottomed out," he told TheCarConnection at the L.A. Auto Show. "Personally, I would not be surprised to see (sales) somewhat better than that."


General Motors Corp. is preparing for a major overhaul of its full-size pickup trucks in 2003. The overhaul of popular full-size Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks comes only four years after GM first introduced them in 1999, which would seem to be a record time for a facelift in the segment. In the past, pickup trucks would remain in production for a decade or more with little or no change. But GM officials insist the overhaul will go beyond minor changes to the front fascia. "We're talking about new sheetmetal on the outside and new features in the inside," said one GM official familiar with the plans. The extensive facelift represents a clever bit of counterprograming against archrival Ford Motor Co., which is still agonizing over getting the oft-delayed replacement for its own full-sizers into dealers’ hands in the next 18 months.
Lutz: “Turmoil and Change” at GM by TCC Team (12/24/2001)





The world will get its first look at the production version of Cadillac's Evoq concept roadster at the North American International Auto Show next week. But potential buyers will have to wait an extra six months to get their hands on what has been renamed the Caddy XLR. General Motors' product czar, Bob Lutz, tells TheCarConnection the last-minute delay is meant "to make sure of the XLR's execution," with a focus on ensuring good fit-and-finish of the roadster's composite panels. Look for the vehicle to now reach showrooms in spring of 2003. In his effort to reshape GM's product program, Lutz has also delayed the next-generation Cadillac Seville, to be called the STS. That delay is meant to improve its styling, Lutz acknowledges. Meanwhile, insiders say Lutz would like to abandon Caddy's controversial Art & Science design theme. While the 69-year-old executive wouldn't confirm that, he did admit wanting to soften and round out the knife-edge styling that debuted on the division's new CTS sedan.
Lutz: “Turmoil and Change” at GM by TCC Team (12/24/2001)


Pontiac’s ’97 Grand Prix is the subject of an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The federal agency says it’s looking into the coupes and sedans after receiving some 18 reports that the vehicles’ steering wheels lock up without warning. No injuries have been reported; if the agency determines there is a problem, the next step would be to issue a recall.


Chrysler’s “Home for the Holidays” is apparently with us through Easter. The company says it will continue to offer seven-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranties on all its vehicles sold through March 31. Chrysler began offering the warranty before Thanksgiving, along with zero-percent financing on some models. The extended warranties are available on 2001 and 2002 models.
How Bad Off Is Chrysler? by Jim Burt (12/10/2001)

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