DAILY EDITION: June 9, 2003

June 9, 2003

TCC'S DAILY EDITION: June 9, 2003

Covisint Gets Third CEO In A Year

The newest CEO for Covisint, Bob Paul, has taken charge of the supplier exchange, making him the third CEO the company has had in about a year. Paul, 40, replaced Bruce Swift last Thursday; Swift had been in charge of the company for less than two months before leaving for a position at supplier Metaldyne Corp.; he will remain on Covisint’s board. Paul has been at Covisint since October of 2001. Before Swift, former GM exec Harold Kutner ran Covisint, preceded by Kevin English, the company’s first CEO.

Ford History III: Young Edsel and Young William

This week TCC features the third in our overviews of Ford history. The fourth generation of the Ford family to enter the business was potentially quite numerous: three children of Henry II, two of Benson, four of Josephine (Mrs. Walter Ford), and four of William Clay Ford. Out of these, only two have counted: Edsel Ford II, Young Henry’s only son, born 1948, who became a company employee in 1974 after graduating from Babson College; and William Clay Ford Jr., born in 1957, who joined in 1979 upon graduation from Princeton. Both young Fords went through a series of management development positions of increasing responsibilities — and gave a good account of themselves among other Ford employees not so well anointed. Meanwhile, Henry Ford II was winding down his active management of Ford Motor Company and, with the young family members way too inexperienced to take the reins of a now-public company, supported company veterans Phil Caldwell, Don Petersen, and Red Polling to run things.

Ford History III: Edsel & Bill Redux (6/8/2003)
Today's Ford bears almost no -- and quite a lot of -- resemblance to its past.

Sixty Years of Ford History

As Ford prepares to celebrate its one hundredth year in business on June 16th, TCC has a special feature from another veteran Detroit writer to tell the story of one of the world’s greatest car companies. Maynard M. (Mac) Gordon will be writing a series of recollections for TheCarConnection, spanning his own 60-year career as an automotive journalist, which has provided the opportunity for many personal glimpses into Ford’s evolution over the years. “My first big assignment as a fledgling reporter and copyreader for Automotive News sent me watching as Henry Ford II, then 28 years old, drove the first 1945 Ford car off the restarted Rouge plant assembly line in Dearborn. Edsel Ford’s oldest son, Henry II, had been recalled from the U.S. Navy to save the nearly bankrupt company from the machinations of his aging grandfather’s crony, the infamous Harry Bennett. Ford insiders — and knowledgeable media types like Associated Press auto editor David Wilkie — were far from optimistic that ‘young Henry’ could pull the rescue mission off,” Gordon recalls in the first installment of his 60 years behind the scenes at Ford:

60 Years of Ford Memories (6/8/2003)
A veteran Detroit journalist remembers the company’s last half-century.

DAILY IN DEPTH

VW Bids Farewell to the Original Beetle, Finally

Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen Beetle

VW de México has announced that this is the last model year for its iconic VW Beetle, marking the end of a nearly 70-year run of the world’s best-selling vehicle. Although the exact end date for the model hasn’t been announced, it is expected to happen at the end of the summer. This marks the end of an almost 70-year era and thus the New Beetle becomes the only Beetle worldwide. In Mexico the original Beetle sold alongside with the New Beetle as the VW Sedan.

The problem with the Beetle can be summed up in a word: competition, and very fierce, we must add. While the Beetle is a design from the Second World War era, its competitors are much newer and more modern. VW de México tried to update its car installing electronic ignition, catalytic converter, fuel injection, and an electronic engine immobilizer. But the engine continued being powered by the wheezy air-cooled 44-hp unit mounted in the rear of the car.

The blame of the death warrant to the VW Beetle can be pretty much put on the Hyundai Atos, GM Chevy (the former Opel Corsa), and much to everybody’s surprise, VW’s own Pointer from Brazil. These cars all outgun the Vochito, as it was lovingly named by Mexicans, with more powerful engines, more space efficient layouts, and more civilized handling.

Another massive death blow to the Vochito was Mexico City’s new taxi program that requires all cabs to be four-door vehicles, which disqualifies the iconic German People’s Car.

Sales of this car started dropping sharply. In 2001, production amounted to 39,000 units but the next year 24,500 units left the Puebla factory, the last place where it was being produced. The last European VW Beetle was made in 1978 and Brazil quit producing it in the 1990s, well before the Mexican plant.

The outlook for model year 2003 is not rosy because from January to April of the current year only 4300 units have been made. Daily production amounts to only 53 units currently and the production line employs 350 workers.

So the death of the VW Beetle was unavoidable, and no, it does not leave on a high note even in spite of being very loved by the Mexican public. —Francisco Perez


First Crossfire Shipped to U.S. Chrysler Dealers

2004 Chrysler Crossfire

2004 Chrysler Crossfire

The ‘2’ of Chrysler’s 1-2 punch for the 2004-model year was scheduled to begin reaching U.S. dealers this past week — a welcome pick-me-up after the traumatic news of Chrysler Group’s looming $1.2 billion loss for the second quarter. That second product punch is the Chrysler Crossfire roadster, a zesty-looking and performing car that shares Mercedes-Benz powertrains and other key components.

As an “image-builder” for the hard-pressed automaker and its nearly 3000 Chrysler-brand dealers in the U.S., Crossfire’s entrance couldn’t be more timely. According to Automotive News, the Wilhelm Karmann GmbH plant that assembles Crossfires can build only about 8700 units for the U.S. this year at its Osnabruck, Germany plant — a relative drop in the bucket if Crossfire becomes a ‘gotta-have’ road racer. So far, says Chrysler spokesperson Marc Henrietta, 1850 Chrysler-brand dealers have signed up to handle the Crossfire. Unlike the first half of the 1-2 punch, the Pacifica crossover, which goes to all Chrysler stores, Chrysler Group required dealers to be “certified” for the 3.2-liter rear-drive Crossfire — ponying up $8100 for tools, parts and technician training. The dealer discount of $2500 per unit is only about seven percent of Crossfire prices, a lower-than-average profit margin.

Chrysler had hoped the Pacifica would provide a roaring sendoff for Crossfire, but only 2471 of the Windsor, Ontario-built Pacificas were sold in May, leaving dealers with a whopping 214-day inventory. The hope now is that, as dealers get their first Crossfires, shoppers will be drawn to Chrysler showrooms and look at Pacificas as well.

The Crossfire carries a maximum suggested retail price of $35,570 for the five-speed automatic-transmission version and $34,495 for one with a six-speed manual-transmission. High-volume Chrysler dealers have been promised three or four Crossfires by year-end, with each certified Crossfire dealer getting at least one. Eventually, Chrysler would like to sell 20,000 Crossfires a year in the U.S, and 2,500 in Europe. It’s the first car since the Daimler-Benz/Chrysler Corp. ‘merger’ in 1998 sharing parts between products of the two entities. Next year’s rear-drive successors to the Chrysler Concorde and Dodge Intrepid will also be rear-drives, tapping into the Mercedes parts bin. —Mac Gordon


FROM THE SOURCE
headlines from the latest press releases

PRNewswire

Going fast can be fun, and the excitement of racing cars can be contagious. And dangerous. There are legal alternatives to illegal and dangerous street racing, according to members of RASR, Racers Against Street Racing. Drivers can show off their driving skills and their car's performance at local racetracks around the country, they say. The programs are open to owners of cars equipped to run legally on streets and roads, as opposed to professional racecars that are modified so much that they are no longer legal for street use.


THE TICKER

Name Symbol Last Chg
AUTOLIV ALV 26.00 +0.17
AUTONATION INC AN 15.46 +0.10
ARVINMERITOR ARM 20.75 +0.72
AMER AXLE & MANU AXL 24.74 -0.26
BALLARD PWR SYS BLDP 13.87 +0.30
BORG WARNER BWA 60.60 +0.01
COLLINS AIKMAN CKC 2.90 -0.10
CUMMINS INC CUM 39.89 +0.17
DANA CORP DCN 11.01 +0.50
DAIMLERCHRYSLER DCX 30.91 +0.11
DELPHI CORP DPH 9.70 +0.19
EATON CORP ETN 83.26 -0.02
FORD MOTOR CO F 10.71 +0.11
GENERAL MOTORS GM 35.74 +0.15
GENTEX CORP GNTX 32.72 -0.44
GOODYEAR TIRE GT 6.89 -0.23
HONDA MOTOR CO HMC 18.98 +0.23
JOHNSON CONTROLS JCI 85.99 -0.07
LEAR CORP LEA 42.72 +0.20
MAGNA INTL MGA 68.48 -0.79
MOTOROLA INC MOT 8.89 -0.28
NISSAN MOTORS NSANY 16.20 +0.18
SONIC AUTOMOTIVE SAH 20.32 -0.06
TOWER AUTO TWR 3.32 -0.15
TOYOTA MOTOR TM 50.55 +0.33
UNIT AUTO GRP UAG 20.38 -0.82
VISTEON CORP VC 7.00 +0.04

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