TCC'S DAILY EDITION: Feb. 6, 2003
TUNDRA IS TEXAS BOUND
2003 Toyota Tundra Access Cab
2003 Toyota Tundra Access Cab
Texas accounts for about one quarter of all pickup sales in the U.S., and Toyota officials said the need to prove itself in the toughest pickup market in the U.S. played a role in the selection.
Confirming a report in USA Today last November that San Antonio had clinched the project, Texas beat out Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama for the $800 million, 2000-acre project. The $130 million tax and infrastructure improvement package Texas offered was not the biggest, but Toyota has a history of not choosing the biggest incentive package when selecting a plant site. San Antonio's rail system, proximity to ports, available workforce and attractiveness for recruiting employees all contributed.
Far from a rural backwater where most new auto plants are located, San Antonio handles numerous business conventions a year and is a tourist destination, besides being home to four military bases. It is the ninth largest metro area in the U.S.
The new plant will augment current Tundra production, now built at the company's Indiana plant. Tundra sales were off last year as Ford and GM discounted full-size trucks all year, but the company is hopeful that a "double cab" Tundra to be unveiled at next week's Chicago Auto Show will help sales. Dealers are hoping for one-half ton and a diesel version for the next generation Tundra that will go into San Antonio.
By 2006, the automaker will have capacity to build 1.65 million cars and trucks a year, and 1.16 million engines in North America.—Jim Burt
Nissan Plans Clash of the Titan by TCC Team (1/13/2003)
Toyota also said Wednesday that its profit doubled in the final quarter of 2002 to $1.8 billion, 94 percent higher than in the same period a year earlier.Stronger-than-expected demand overseas prompted Toyota on Wednesday to also upgrade its full-year sales volume target for the second time since the April start of the fiscal year. The company now expects to sell 6.22 million vehicles globally for the 12 months through March, up from the 6.20 million target announced in October and the 5.98 million units predicted in May.—Jim Burt
2004 Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet
The new Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class Cabriolet is coming to this year’s Geneva Motor Show. The new vehicle features a host of improvements, including standard head and side airbags, a new convertible roof and a range of four-, six- and eight-cylinder engines. By repackaging the top and its fit in the trunk, Benz says it has increased usable space in the trunk by 40 liters. A new sensor-controlled rollover bar complements the quad airbags up front and, for the first time, the side airbags for the rear passengers. Standard equipment includes automatic climate control with outlets in the rear, Headlamp Assist, a rain sensor for the windshield wipers, cruise control with Speedtronic, and a reach and height-adjustable, leather-covered multifunction steering wheel; options include Distronic cruise control, the keyless access COMAND navigation control, and an intelligent automatic climate control. Five gasoline-powered engines can be ordered in various international editions: a 306-hp powers the CLK500, a 367-hp in the CLK55 AMG; a 170-hp six or a 218-hp 3.2-liter V-6 in the CLK320; and a 163-hp four in the CLK200 kompressor. Stay tuned for more information in TCC’s Geneva coverage coming March 4.
2004 Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet
MERCEDES SEES EXPLOSIVE AWD GROWTH
Mercedes-Benz expects to see its latest 4Matic all-wheel-drive system to be chosen by at least 50 percent of buyers “on those models it will be available on,” according to marketing chief Dave Schembri. The AWD system is being added to a wide range of Mercedes models over the coming year, including all C-Class sedans and coupes, where it will be an $1800 option. “We’re looking for this to become the next big safety feature,” said Bart Herring, C-Class product manager. Sales of 4Matic are strongest in the snow belt, according to Schembri, but the automaker intends to promote the technology as a plus for performance driving in warmer, drier climes as well. —TCC Team
2003 Mercedes-Benz AWD Line by Jim McCraw (1/27/2003)
MERCEDES HOLDING PRICES
The recent shift in exchange rates is playing havoc on importers, especially those bringing high-value products in from Europe, where the euro has gained significant strength against the dollar since last autumn. “The pressure is there” to raise prices accordingly, conceded Mercedes-Benz Marketing Director David Schembri. But at least for the moment, and unless something “dramatic” happens, the automaker intends to hold prices steady. “Our policy,” added Schembri, “is always to price to the market.” The German carmaker is betting that strategy will help it achieve a seventh consecutive year of record sales in the U.S. For 2002, sales climbed to 213,225 cars and trucks. —TCC Team
BORGWARNER TITLES MANGANELLO TWICE
Tier One supplier BorgWarner Inc. says president Timothy Manganello will also assume the title of CEO. Manganello thus replaces John Fiedler, who will retire this year. Manganello, 52, has been with BorgWarner for 14 years, and was named president and COO last February. Fiedler will be with the company until he retires later in the year.
DAILY IN DEPTH
Imports Top 40-Percent Share For The First Time
This year opened on a welcome note for Ford, boosting its car and truck sales 4.2 percent after an extended downturn, while GM and Chrysler Group lost ground in January by 2.1 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively, reflecting a ‘payback’ for the lofty rate achieved in December. But the foreign brands scored the biggest surprise, edging past the 40-percent market share threshold for the first time in history — despite the brisk pace of incentives for domestic makes carried over into the new year.
The so-called ‘imports’ racked up 40.8 percent of the January total of nearly 1.1 million vehicle sales. That happened even though Toyota suffered a rare decline from a year ago, tumbling 5.7 percent to 119,329 units, or an 11-percent share. On the upside were Honda, rising 6 percent to a January record of 90,003 sales, followed by Nissan, up 1.2 percent to 55,209.
Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are embroiled in an auto show-stealing new-product spree, and together they now account for an unprecedented 25 percent of the U.S. market — one vehicle out of every four sold. All three, moreover, are adding capacity in North America, and no industry watcher would be surprised to see the Japanese Big Three draw closer to the one-out-of-three mark as their new and expanded plants go on line in places like Alabama (Honda), Mississippi (Nissan) and Texas (Toyota). With one-quarter of the U.S. market, the Japanese Big Three outgunned Ford’s 22.2 percent last month and nearly caught GM’s 26.8 percent. They outsold GM in cars, 159,307 to 144,475 and outsold DaimlerChrysler in light trucks, 106,804 to 96,728. —Mac Gordon
WJR AUTO REPORT: The Retail Revolution?
There’s been plenty of talk, over the years, about a retail revolution. According to conventional wisdom, consumers couldn’t wait to find a faster, friendlier, more convenient way to buy a vehicle. And plenty of alternatives have popped up in an effort to displace your local dealer. There’ve been, among other things, the superstores and the online buying services.
They’ve had some limited success. But the fact is, the neighborhood dealer is not only surviving, but thriving. And that’s pretty odd considering the current state of the economy. Dealers are normally hurt during most downturns, but they’re actually posting record profits this time ‘round, as was obvious from all the celebrating in San Francisco during this week’s convention of the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Consumers should also celebrate because dealers are doing a better job delivering the level of service buyers and owners expect. A new study by Automotive Retailing Today finds 94 percent rate their showroom experience as anywhere from good to excellent.
FROM THE SOURCE
Nissan Motor Co. and UTC Fuel Cells (UTCFC), a part of United Technologies Corporation's UTC Power unit, today announced the signing of an agreement to jointly develop proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology. Under terms of the agreement, Nissan will obtain rights to UTCFC's technology, and the two companies will continue to jointly develop this technology for automotive applications. UTCFC will continue its separate development efforts with other auto companies. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
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|BALLARD PWR SYS||BLDP||9.87||-0.06|
|FORD MOTOR CO||F||9.09||+0.08|
|HONDA MOTOR CO||HMC||17.10||+0.01|
|UNIT AUTO GRP||UAG||11.86||-0.36|