DAILY EDITION: Sept. 25, 2003

September 25, 2003

TCC'S DAILY EDITION: Sept. 25, 2003   

 

Honda Sells 20 Millionth Vehicle

American Honda Motor Co. has reached a milestone in sales — the company has sold its 20 millionth vehicle in the U.S. The company first landed in the States in 1959, but sold its first vehicles in 1970, moving swiftly in introducing the Civic and Accord models and building them in North America as well. The 20 million vehicles include both Honda-brand and Acura-brand products. This year, Honda expects to sell about 1.35 million vehicles, and expects to break its sales records in the U.S. for the eighth year in a row.

Flint: Ils N’ont Rien Appris, Ni Rien Oublie by Jerry Flint (9/22/2003)
Or in English, some folks never learn.

 

 

Toyota Adds Fuel-Cell Vehicles

Toyota is expanding the number of fuel-cell vehicles it is testing in Southern California by two. The company said on Wednesday that it would add another pair of hydrogen-fueled vehicles into the fleet, leasing them to the National Fuel Cell Research Center at UC-Irvine (www.nfcrc.uci.edu) and UC-Davis’ Institute of Transportation Studies (http://its.ucdavis.edu). The existing pair of Highlander-based fuel-cell vehicles in the universities’ fleets has clocked about 6000 miles since December of 2002, Toyota says. The new vehicles will be improved with the addition of left-hand drive, better braking, and a navigation system.

On the Road to Hydrogen by TCC Team (9/1/2003)
Former GM CEO has a “solid” solution to storage problems.

 

 

Pedal Cars Get Museum Show

The show Pedal to the Metal: A History of Children’s Pedal Cars, at the Stamford, Conn., Museum and Nature Center, explores the history of pedal car design and production and the way it paralled changes in real cars. Created by Garton, Murray, Gendron, Junior Toy, or AMF, kid’s cars cartooned those of their parents. The same ideas were given more freedom and flourish. Because these companies employed noted industrial and auto designers of the day to ensure contemporary style and design, the exhibition includes miniature cars conceived by such prominent American automobile designers as Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, Viktor Schreckengost, Brooks Stevens, and Harley Earl.

The most astonishing car on display is the 1995 “Baby Bat,” with tail fins and a grille like a hail of chrome bullets. It was custom made by Mike Gaydos in honor of legendary custom carmaker Bill Hines, who calls some of his own full-size cars “Big Bats.” Hines was so pleased with the “Baby Bat” that he painted it himself. Other stunners in the show include a one-off white ’53 Corvette and a Chrysler Airflow that outsold the full-size production version. There is a wonderful wooden 1906 model — and a Ford Pinto.

The exhibition was organized by the Stamford Museum and Nature Center in conjunction with Jane Dwyre Garton, author of Pedal Cars: Chasing the Kidillac (1999); John Rastall, publisher of Wheel Goods Trader magazine; and Amy Reichert Architecture + Design and Alexander Isley, Inc, exhibition design. The show runs through January 4 and will then travel to other cities.  —Phil Patton

 

Fla. Judge Makes Bumper Stickers Enforcers

Drunken drivers may have plenty of roadgoing eyes watching their behavior, if an Escambia County, Fla., judge has his way. Judge William White, serving in the county court that includes the city of Pensacola, is ordering some drunk drivers to put a “How’s My Driving?” bumper sticker on their vehicles — with a toll-free number and “The judge wants to know!” beneath, the Associated Press reports. The judge tells the news agency he wants to reduce the number of repeat offenders: “We want to influence people to correct their behavior rather than just use this as sort of a monitoring system,” White said. Convicted offenders in four Florida Panhandle counties can be compelled to pay $50 to get the stickers; the money is donated to a scholarship charity.


DAILY IN DEPTH

The “Crazy” Canton Rollout

With the approaching publication of the grimly-titled book, The End of Detroit, (Doubleday/Random House), an object lesson in why the Big Three lost their domination of the U.S. market is drawing attention to the new Nissan assembly plant in Canton, Miss. Veteran Forbes Magazine (September 29) auto writer Micheline Maynard’s tome centers attention on the steady inroads of foreign automakers, covering Nissan’s attainment of the number-one productivity ranking at its 20-year-old plant in Smyrna, Tenn., and the construction of the first North America plant charged with building an unprecedented five models under one roof — in Canton.

Under the headline, “Overdrive,” Forbes raises a question about Canton that automakers in the Motor City have themselves asked about the Mississippi initiative: “Is Nissan crazy to launch 5 models in a year at its new factory?”

Canton is a tiny town, nearly completely African-American in population, and has never had a manufacturing plant — let alone a highly automated auto assembly facility. But, as auto writer Joann Muller points out, Nissan Motor CEO Carlos Ghosn is nothing if not a successful gambler — having led Renault’s takeover and resuscitation of Nissan since 1999. When Nissan’s rebirth led to an industry-topping gross profits margin of nearly eleven percent of sales, the Canton plant decision was green-lighted in Paris. Throwing caution to the winds, as have stylists on a number of 2003-04 models, Ghosn decided to build the equivalent of two plants in a single project. From its opening last May, Canton has the capacity to assemble 250,000 trucks, SUVs and minivans in a year — plus 150,000 Altimas and 15,000 new Infiniti SUVs in the deluxe brand’s first domestic rollout. Impressive, to say the least.

First of the quintet to be assembled at Canton was the redesigned Quest minivan, followed this summer by the all-new Pathfinder Armada full-size SUV. Next, and most eagerly awaited, is the new Titan full-size truck slated for a December 1 sales date. The next-generation Altima will enter the lineup next year, as will the Infiniti SUV using the Armada platform. Totally flexible from the get-go, unlike Smyrna, Canton can intersperse Armadas and Quests on the same line, even though the pair have different chasses. Canton has 850 robots which scan individual serial numbers and “pluck” just the right piece of steel — all done at a just-in-time pace which moves seats steadily from a new nearby Johnson Controls plant to designated spots on conveyor lines for instant installment on designated vehicles. Some 5300 employees ramped up to production on 350 Quest minivans a day in eight weeks, triggering the Armada startup ten days earlier than planned — prompting Forbes to assert, “If it can keep that up, maybe Nissan’s not so crazy after all.”

TCC’s Ten Cool Cars of ‘04 by Bengt Halvorson (9/22/2003)
Grab your driving gloves, get your shades, and maybe call your broker, too.

 

 

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases

PRNewswire

Lexus announced today that the thoroughly revised 2004 LS430 would maintain its price position in the competitive premium luxury sedan field with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $55,125. The restyled LS adds several new and advanced features such as a six-speed automatic transmission, Adaptive Front lighting System, and driver and passenger knee airbags as standard equipment. New luxury amenities as well as a moonroof and power rear sunshade are also standard for 2004.


 

THE TICKER

 

Name

Symbol

Last

Chg

AUTOLIV

ALV

30.73

-0.04

AUTONATION INC

AN

18.55

-0.52

ARVINMERITOR

ARM

20.51

+0.69

AMER AXLE & MANU

AXL

30.59

-0.50

BALLARD PWR SYS

BLDP

14.59

+1.01

BORG WARNER

BWA

71.34

-0.36

COLLINS AIKMAN

CKC

2.99

0.00

CUMMINS INC

CUM

47.60

-1.02

DANA CORP

DCN

15.50

-0.40

DAIMLERCHRYSLER

DCX

35.79

-1.44

DELPHI CORP

DPH

9.20

-0.21

EATON CORP

ETN

91.27

-2.06

FORD MOTOR CO

F

11.26

-0.26

GENERAL MOTORS

GM

40.82

-0.85

GENTEX CORP

GNTX

35.95

-1.06

GOODYEAR TIRE

GT

7.14

-0.26

HONDA MOTOR CO

HMC

20.95

-0.45

JOHNSON CONTROLS

JCI

96.52

-1.63

LEAR CORP

LEA

53.66

-1.05

MAGNA INTNL

MGA

73.69

+0.14

MOTOROLA INC

MOT

12.26

-0.04

NISSAN MOTORS

NSANY

21.96

-0.54

SONIC AUTOMOTIVE

SAH

25.45

-0.73

TOWER AUTO

TWR

5.23

-0.14

TOYOTA MOTOR

TM

61.00

-2.09

UNIT AUTO GRP

UAG

24.00

-0.67

VISTEON CORP

VC

6.90

-0.08

 

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