2002 Detroit Auto Show by TCC Team (1/6/2002)
Toyota show sponsor
sponsored by Toyota
Toyota show sponsor
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SCHEELE OUTLINES SHAKEUP TO COME
While some plant closings and layoffs seem likely to come when Ford announces its long-awaited turnaround plan later this week, "This is likely to be (just) Phase One," the architect of that project says. "There will be other phases down the road,” says Ford COO Nick Scheele, who is focusing on moves that will have a more long-lasting impact on his company's products and production efficiency. In a special interview, TheCarConnection learned that he will push Ford to become a leaner, more flexible company. Borrowing a page from Japanese automakers like Honda, Ford will switch from fixed to flexible factory automation. In cases where market demand slows for one product, it would be able to quickly switch a plant so it could produce something more popular, rather than have to shut down. Among other things, Scheele said he would try to consolidate parts use. In Europe, for example, he had the company switch from 100 separate gasoline filler caps to just two. The turnaround plan is aimed at the long-term, rather than just a quick boost in profits, Scheele cautioned, acknowledging that as a result, industry analysts "aren't going to like everything they're going to get" during the first phase.
Scheele Hints at Turnaround Plan by TCC Team (1/6/2002)
Detroit’s Dark Before Dawn by Jerry Flint (12/24/2001)
2002 Nissan Altima
2002 Chevrolet TrailBlazer
ALTIMA, TRAILBLAZER GET
The Nissan Altima proved something of a dark-horse winner as it was named top choice in the annual North American Car of the Year voting Sunday. The Altima bested the retro-styled Ford Thunderbird and Cadillac's new and edgy CTS sedan. The Chevrolet TrailBlazer, meanwhile, took top honors as the North American Truck of the Year, outpolling Jeep's new Liberty and another Chevy product, the multi-purpose Avalanche. The Altima, declared Nissan Senior Vice President Jed Connelly, "is the first big step" in the automaker's turnaround program. Meanwhile, Gary Cowger, president of GM North America, said the award for TrailBlazer is especially well-received, since it was the result of voting by 49 of North America's top automotive journalists, including TheCarConnection.com Publisher TCC Team.
GM ROLLS OUT QUARTET OF
General Motors used Sunday's opening of the North American International Auto Show as a backdrop for the introduction of four new concept vehicles — one of which wound up on the GM stand purely by accident:
2002 Cadillac Cien concept
2002 Chevrolet Bel Air concept
2002 Pontiac Solstice concept
2002 Pontiac Solstice concept
Preview: GM's '02 Concepts by TCC Team (8/20/2001)
PACIFICA IS CHRYSLER’S “NEW
2002 Chrysler Pacifica concept
Preview: '03 Chrysler Crossfire by TCC Team (1/6/2002)
NO KNIFE AT
Chrysler's top executives "clearly failed" to hit the ambitious market share goals outlined in their turnaround plan early last year, acknowledged CEO Dieter Zetsche during an exclusive interview with TheCarConnection.com. Chrysler ended 2002 with a U.S. share of barely 13 percent, while the forecast was closer to 14.5 percent. On the other hand, Zetsche stressed, "the cost side compensated for that," with Chrysler exceeding the savings it had originally intended. It will be necessary to "tune" the plan," the German executive conceded, though he stressed that, "I don't intend to manage by use of the knife," suggesting that big layoffs and further demands for supplier concessions are not in the works. Zetsche noted that Chrysler has cut its five-year spending program from an original $42 billion to just $30 billion, but emphasized that they have actually added five new products to their plans. To do that, Chrysler is making more use of the technology and know-how of its sibling divisions, Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi.
BENZ GST AN
This morning on the Cobo floor, Mercedes-Benz will be showing the GST, a sport wagon thematically similar to the Chrysler Pacifica. Though it’s being proffered as a concept, Benz sources tell TCC that the production version of the GST is imminent — and that it shares its body-on-frame design and Alabama assembly site with the M-Class sport-ute. A production date is anticipated for the 2005 model year.
Spy Shots: ’05 Benz GST by Brenda Priddy (9/3/2001)
FORD GT40: RETRO
2002 Ford GT40 Concept
Ford Concept Revives GT40 by TCC Team (1/6/2002)
FORD TONKA GETS HYDRAULIC
2002 Ford Mighty F-350 Tonka concept
THREE'S NO CROWD FOR LEXUS SUV
2003 Lexus GX470
PILOT BUILD FOR
2003 Honda Pilot
CIVIC HYBRID DUE IN
2002 Honda Civic hybrid
MORE HONDA HYBRIDS TO
Honda will announce yet another hybrid-electric vehicle Monday, a battery-boosted concept version of its hot-selling MDX sport-utility vehicle. Dubbed the RD-X, it will be a “little more performance-oriented” than the automaker’s original HEV, the teardrop-shaped Insight. Hybrids recapture energy normally lost during coasting or braking, then store it in batteries, such as Insight’s nickel-metal hydride cells. When a burst of extra power is needed, such as when starting up at a light, the energy is fed to a motor that assists the vehicle’s gasoline engine.
DETROIT SEES SAAB DOUBLES
2002 Saab 9-3X concet
SUZUKI AIRS AERIO FOR
With sales expected to climb by eight percent next year, Suzuki is betting the Aerio sedan and five-door compact will be a big draw into its small showrooms. The Aerio twins are set to go on sale in March, and could help the company hit a sales target of 70,000 vehicles in 2002.
GM LOOKS ABROAD
General Motors is apparently trying to figure out ways to pair Daewoo with its Italian partner, Fiat. Pressed by Italian journalists attending the North American International Auto Show about rumors of possible marketing partnership between Daewoo and Fiat, Wagoner said didn't deny the reports but said nothing had been decided yet and noted the situation around Daewoo is still fluid. GM is pressing to complete a deal that would give it control of the South Korean automaker but the final agreement still isn't in place yet. Pressed by journalists from South America about GM's response to the economic crisis in Argentina, Wagoner said GM has been forced to cut production as the crisis as worsened but he said GM will ride out. "We're not going to make the same mistake we did 25 years ago when we pulled out of Argentina," Wagoner added. One positive development in South America, so far at least, is the crisis in Argentina hasn't spread to Brazil, Wagoner
TOYOTA ADMITS THIRD
Rumors that Toyota Motor Sales USA was prepared to reveal a third brand aimed at younger consumers in Detroit are just that -- rumors, says Irv Miller, an executive with TMS. But Miller said Toyota will go ahead with the third brand but the official announcement is being pushed back into the spring because it has to address several issues. For one thing, Toyota still hasn't chosen a name for the new brand, In addition, the Japanese automaker also wants to discuss the final plans with dealers. Miller also said the new brand won't take over any existing products. It will have its own portfolio, which should appeal to buyers of all ages, he said.