DAILY EDITION: Sept. 26, 2002

September 26, 2002

DAILY EDITION: Sept. 26, 2002

2004 Pontiac Grand Prix

2004 Pontiac Grand Prix

2004 GRAND PRIX READY FOR SPRING
Pontiac will show off the 2004 Grand Prix this week at the Texas State Fair — but you don’t have to get horse hockey on your shoes here to see it. The ’04 Grand Prix gets smoothed out and styled up, though it doesn’t grow any larger. There are three models in the lineup: GT, GTP and GTP with the Competition Group. The GT gets twin exhausts and 16-inch wheels, standard traction control and ABS, an interior blessed with higher quality trim, as well as a 200-hp version of the venerable 3.8-liter V-6.

2004 Pontiac Grand Prix

2004 Pontiac Grand Prix

The GTP adds supercharging for 250 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Both engine variations have electronic throttle control. The GTP with the Competition Group, which Pontiac expects to account for 10 percent of Grand Prix sales, adds 17-inch wheels with 142-mph-rated tires and TAPshift (Touch Activated Power) control to the automatic tranny. For accessibility, the rear doors swing open 82 degrees, the trunk opening is 10 inches wider, and the lift-over height is almost six inches lower. Couple that with flat-folding rear and front-passenger seats and the Grand Prix can swallow a kayak, GM says. The new Grand Prix begins assembly at GM’s Oshawa plant in the first quarter of 2003.
GM Sketches Out '03 Concepts(8/19/2002)

FORD TO BOOST Q4 PRODUCTION
Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford says his company will boost production in the fourth quarter. Strong sales in the U.S. means fewer cars on the lot for 2003, and though Ford characterized the increases to Reuters as “not a lot,” the announcement had a positive effect on Ford’s stock, boosting it to nearly $10 a share. In recent days, Ford’s stock has sunk to new lows, because of problems with its Ford Credit subsidiary. Ford’s production increase means it will build more than the 960,000 vehicles originally planned in the fourth quarter.
Industry Outlook Clouding Over by Joseph Szczesny (9/23/2002)

CHRYSLER WILL PROFIT IN Q3, Q4
Chrysler says it will turn a profit in the third and fourth quarters of 2002. Reuters reports that Chrysler Group president Dieter Zetsche confirms the prediction, adding that two more quarters of profit would put the company ahead of its break-even goal for the year. Zetsche, in Paris for this week’s auto show press days, didn’t specify how much profit the company would post for the two quarters, however. Chrysler posted a $408 billion profit in the second quarter.
DC, Ford Could Face CAW Strike by Joseph Szczesny (9/23/2002)

CHRYSLER TRIES AGAIN TO CRACK EUROPEAN MARKET
The U.S. arm of DaimlerChrysler AG has spent years trying to find a way to build demand for its brand in Europe, but so far with little success. While its Jeeps and minivans can be seen on the streets of Paris and other cities across the continent, Chrysler can claim barely a 0.7-percent share of the competitive European market. That doesn’t mean it’s giving up, according to Dieter Zetsche, CEO of the U.S. carmaker. “We believe we can create steady growth and double our volume in the (upcoming) three to five year timeframe,” he declared during a press preview of the Paris Motor Show. Zetsche stressed that Chrysler will not try to come up with products specifically geared for Europe. Quite the contrary. To succeed, it needs “very unique, pushing-the-envelope type products,” such as the California Cruiser, a two-toned version of the PT Cruiser, which is getting its first showing in Europe. Chrysler would have to make some concessions, Zetsche acknowledged, in the form of right-hand-drive and diesel engines. Diesels now account for nearly half the overall market in Europe. —TCC Team

IRS CUTS MILEAGE DEDUCTION
The Internal Revenue Service will be stingier with its mileage deduction next year. Runzheimer International recommended, and the IRS accepted, a half-cent cut in the standard per-mile business deduction to 36 cents, effective January 1. The Rochester, Wisc.-based management consulting firm has made its recommendation to the IRS since 1980, and explains the cut as the result of falling gas prices.

SPECIAL REPORT: PARIS AUTO SHOW

The Paris Auto Show press days have begun, and already a handful of concepts have made their debut. TCC will report from Paris through the week, with special reports on the introductions of the Porsche Cayenne, VW Touareg and Ferrari Enzo — you can stay tuned by clicking into our 2002 Paris Show index of coverage.

2002 Dodge Razor concept

2002 Dodge Razor concept

SURVIVING BY A RAZOR’S EDGE?
Chrysler’s popular Razor concept vehicle may be in for a reprieve. Dodge unveiled the retro-styled roadster at the Detroit auto show last January, but despite strong public response, it had looked like Chrysler wouldn’t put the orange-colored coupe into production. Well, speaking at a preview of the Paris Motor Show, the automaker’s CEO, Dieter Zetsche, suggested Chrysler is having second thoughts. “Razor is not in front position to go into production,” Zetsche said, quickly adding that, “this is not a ‘no.’” —TCC Team

2003 Porsche Cayenne

2003 Porsche Cayenne

DIESEL? WHAT DIESEL?
It would seem an oxymoron to put a high-mileage diesel into the new Porsche Cayenne, a prospect the automaker’s CEO, Wendelin Wiedeking, took pains to put to rest during the first showing of the actual SUV/sports car hybrid. (Porsche released a few Cayenne photos to the press last March.) It makes no sense to spend money developing a diesel if Porsche can sell all the gasoline-powered Cayennes it can build, according to Wiedeking. Well, perhaps for now, but German sources tell TheCarConnection that Porsche is preparing a contingency plan recognizing the dramatic European shift towards diesels. To hold down costs, the Stuttgart sports car maker would likely turn to its long-time ally, Volkswagen, which partnered on the development of Cayenne and the similarly conceived VW Touareg. VW is expected to offer at least one, and possibly several diesel options in its own version of the SUV. —TCC Team

2003 Ford Streetka

2003 Ford Streetka

TAKING IT TO THE STREET
Ford pulled the wraps off the Streetka, a stubby roadster that started life as a European concept study. Designed by the Ghia studios and bearing more than a little resemblance to the Audi TT Cabrio, the Streetka is based off the newest incarnation of Ford’s mini-compact Fiesta. “Streetka will be almost an icon,” predicted David Thursfield, head of Ford’s European operations. The Streetka was originally designed for a limited production run, reflecting the fast ups-and-downs of stylish niche products. But Thursfield predicted the two-seater likely would maintain its popularity far longer than expected. Meanwhile, Ford also got a jump on the primary press days in Paris, unveiling a multipurpose version of its popular Focus line. Dubbed the Focus C-Max, Thursfield promised the prototype will shortly go into production, and deliver a surprising amount of interior space as well as “great driving dynamics.” —TCC Team

WHO NEEDS A GURU?
Not Ford, declared Ford CEO Bill Ford. He argued the automotive and business media are all wrong when they demand the number-two automaker find a product “czar,” like General Motors’ Bob Lutz. “The public doesn’t care who designed their car,” Ford said, suggesting that there are plenty of car-savvy executives at the automaker, not just one in a ranking position. Ford of Europe’s nascent comeback proves the point, the family heir and company chairman emphasized. “A lot of what worked here (in Europe) is in the process of being transferred back to the United States,” said Ford, during a press preview marking the start of the biannual Paris auto show. But he also cautioned that “The U.S. (arm of Ford) is a bigger organization and because of that, it’s probably going to be slower to react” to the changes now underway. —TCC Team

ASTON’S BEZ: IT’S IN THE EYES
With sales expected to triple over the next four to five years, Aston Martin is going to be looking for a lot of new dealers, especially in the U.S., said its CEO, Ulrich Bez. Considering the low volumes and personalized service needed to sell and service cars of Aston’s caliber, the British automaker is taking a very slow and cautious approach to approving new franchises. After the initial vetting process, Bez says he goes to see each new candidate. What clinches the deal? “It’s not the interview,” he tells TheCarConnection. “But I want to looking into their eyes and see what they bring to the market. I’m inspired (when) I feel some passion.” —TCC Team
Aston Brewing Porsche Fighter by TCC Team (9/25/2002)

Kia KCV-11 concept

Kia KCV-11 concept

KIA GETS CONCEPTUAL
Kia unveiled its KCV-II concept car that’s aimed at young owners with an active lifestyle. The concept has a flexible seating system and an open pickup bed. The car was designed in Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt, Germany, after an in-house competition. The KCV-II concept is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 and has full time AWD. It is built on a new platform, code-named KM, that will be used in future new Kias, such as a conventional SUV and a lifestyle version like the KCV-II. With this concept Kia also wants to show that it will introduce a tire-pressure warning system, active headrests and emergency brake assist in their production models in due course. —Henny Hemmes

A RALLY CONCEPT FROM MITSU
Mitsubishi shows its Pajero Evolution, the first rally car based on a concept car, the Pajero Evo that was launched in Frankfurt last year. The Pajero Evolution will be ready to race the 2003 season and will debut in the 2002 UAE Desert Rally in Dubai Rally (October 29 – November 2). Of course the Evolution will also participate in the Rally Paris-Dakar in January. The new car has a better weight distribution and a lower center of gravity than its predecessor, achieved by placing the tuned 24-valve 3.5-liter V-6 about four inches lower and 12 inches further backwards. The Evolution is the first Pajero with a sequential six-speed stick shift. The car also features a system to adjust tire pressure from the passenger seat. —Henny Hemmes

2002 Honda Civic Type-R (Euro)

2002 Honda Civic Type-R (Euro)

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, HONDA
Honda unveiled two special editions to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Civic. The first is of the Civic Type-R and the other is called 1.6 Sport. Both cars have 30th anniversary badges. The Type-R is equipped with Recaro seats and a Momo steering wheel; the rear side windows and the rear window have dark tinted glass. The 1.6 Sport has some of the Type-R details, such as the bumper spoilers and the side skirts. The car also has a roof spoiler on top of the hatch, 15-inch alloy wheels, smoked headlamps and door handles in body color. —Henny Hemmes

Volkswagen Magellan concept

Volkswagen Magellan concept

BP: VW DOWN WITH MAGELLAN
Volkswagen AG chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder confirmed a published report that the Volkswagen Magellan crossover SUV concept that the company showed at last January's Detroit auto show will be developed as an Audi, and will share some parts and components with the Volkswagen Touareg. VW is introducing the Touareg, Audi A8 and Audi S4 at this week's Paris motor show. Pischetsrieder also said the new A8 shows Audi's design direction of designing its sedans to look more like coupes. "When I was at BMW, we looked at Audi as following in our footsteps all the time...but you can never get ahead of the competition if you do that," said the former BMW chairman. He noted that BMW's sedans were looking more like traditional Mercedes sedans in the coming redesigns of the 5-Series and 3-Series, leaving Audi designs looking all the more distinctive. "I would say Jaguar and Acura were closer to our natural competitors going forward," said Pischetsrieder. —Jim Burt
Magellan at Detroit: ’02 Detroit Show, Part II by Marty Padgett (1/14/2002)

MICHELIN: NO MORE SPARES
Most new vehicles sold a decade from now, especially premium vehicles, will not carry a spare tire, said Michelin Group chairman CEO Edouard Michelin Wednesday at an industry event sponsored by J.D. Power and Associates and Automotive News. "The spare tire is prehistoric," said Michelin, who says it will take another decade for consumers to accept not having a spare. "Most people do not know how to change a tire anyway," said the Michelin scion. The Renault Scenic in Europe is one car, noted Michelin, that does not carry a spare. "Look at the size of the spare tire sitting under the trunk in a Mercedes S Class, and how much room that opens up," said Michelin.The costs of a run-flat tire are still higher than traditional tires, but the costs are coming down, said Michelin, and there is clearly interest at the consumer level and by regulators, especially in the U.S. —Jim Burt

FROM THE SOURCE

PRNewswire

AutoTrader.com, the number one automotive classifieds site on the planet, today announced the appointment of Sue Boehlke to the position of chief information officer. In this position, she will be responsible for managing the integration of processes, information and technology that support all aspects of AutoTrader.com's business operations. Ms. Boehlke's expertise includes strategic planning, project and IT management, application development, vendor selection and infrastructure design. She will report directly to Jim McKnight, chief operations officer.

THE TICKER

Name Symbol Last Chg
AUTOLIV ALV 20.79 -0.36
AUTONATION INC AN 11.88 +0.23
ARVINMERITOR ARM 20.29 +0.47
AMER AXLE & MANU AXL 26.93 -0.10
BALLARD PWR SYS BLDP 10.3834 +0.3734
BORG WARNER BWA 51.19 +0.01
COLLINS AIKMAN CKC 3.65 -0.25
CUMMINS INC CUM 24.27 +0.85
DANA CORP DCN 13.43 -0.04
DAIMLERCHRYSLER DCX 35.45 +1.47
DONNELLY CORP DON 25.88 +0.58
DELPHI CORP DPH 9.02 +0.42
EATON CORP ETN 63.37 +1.74
FORD MOTOR CO F 9.97 +0.63
GENERAL MOTORS GM 39.57 +1.41
GENTEX CORP GNTX 28.568 +1.118
GOODYEAR TIRE GT 8.77 +0.28
HONDA MOTOR CO HMC 20.45 +0.02
JOHNSON CONTROLS JCI 77.03 +4.02
LEAR CORP LEA 42.50 +1.70
MAGNA INTL MGA 56.61 +1.47
MOTOROLA INC MOT 10.76 +0.71
NISSAN MOTORS NSANY 14.81 +0.28
SONIC AUTOMOTIVE SAH 19.00 +0.45
TOWER AUTO TWR 6.62 +0.12
TOYOTA MOTOR TM 51.10 +0.86
TRW INC TRW 59.00 +0.32
UNIT AUTO GRP UAG 14.71 +0.80
VISTEON CORP VC 9.67 -0.25

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