DAILY EDITION: Sept. 29, 2003

September 29, 2003

Daily Edition TCC WJR

Daily Edition TCC WJR

TCC'S DAILY EDITION: Sept. 29, 2003

Oct. Sales Slip — But How Much?

Sales of new cars appear to have slipped from their lofty peaks reached in July and August. Reports from manufacturers and analysts alike indicated that annual sales rate for September will be down to around 16.5 million, which is somewhat better than September of 2002 but softer than sales this past August when the sales pace hit a sales rate of 19 million units. Wall Street analysts also are predicting that the September numbers will reveal some grim news for both Ford and the Chrysler Group, both of which are expected to see their sales decline again. In addition, both companies could wind up losing additional market share to competitors.

Oct. Sales Will Slip — But How Far? (9/29/2003)
Ford and Chrysler are facing some hard numbers.

Welburn Takes Over GM Design

A veteran of more than 30 years with General Motors will take over as the head of the company's design staff this week. Ed Welburn, 52, will become GM's vice president of design Wednesday, filling the post held by the retiring Wayne Cherry, 66, who has headed up GM's design staff since 1992. Officially, Cherry's retirement will become official on Jan. 1, 2004. The appointment of Welburn, the first African-American to hold the job of top designer at an automaker, has been widely discussed for the past several weeks but GM had waited until Friday to confirm the appointment. In his new role, Welburn will be responsible for appearance of all of GM's vehicles around the world. His day-to-day management of GM Design includes membership on the GM North America Strategy Board and oversight of GM's Global Design Council.

Welburn to Head GM Design (9/29/2003)
Thirty-year vet takes over the helm from Cherry.

Detroit Debates UAW Contract

Later this week, the United Auto Workers is expected to wrap up ratification of a new labor contract that will ease thousands of union members into retirement and clear the way for more restructuring. The contracts, however, were only getting a passing grade from analysts on Wall Street who follow the industry's fortunes. The new contracts clear the five companies involved in the negotiations — Ford Motor Co., General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Visteon and Delphi — to eliminate up to 50,000 jobs over the next four years and close as many as ten plants in the next four years, analysts said. The new contracts also offer the automakers a leverage to limit any increase in salaried compensation over the next four years. But analyst said the wage freeze and plant closings won't be enough to help the domestic industry hold off overseas competition, which now hold a record 40 percent of the U.S. market even though the Big Three have been offering huge rebates.

Detroit Reacts to UAW Contract (9/29/2003)
The UAW and Detroit are done, but analysts aren't impressed.

Schrempp Leaving NYSE Board

The chairman of DaimlerChrysler will leave the board of the New York Stock Exchange, just days after the head of the NYSE board was deposed in a pay scandal. Juergen Schrempp told a Germany newspaper that he would leave the board — as has another board member — in the wake of the resignation of Richard Grasso. Grasso, as came to light in the past few months, had garnered an exceptionally generous pay package of $187.5 million. Schrempp had been an early critic of Grasso’s pay package.

AN: Ford Building Sport Wagons in Atlanta

Ford’s aging but highly productive plant in Atlanta will be the source for Ford and Lincoln sport wagons coming mid-decade, according to a report in Automotive News. The industry weekly says Ford’s recent haggling with the UAW has led to a reversal of fortune in favor of the Atlanta plant. Ford had originally planned to replace the Atlanta plant, bound in by the city’s immense airport, with a new greenfield plant in an exurban Georgia county. That plan fell through when Ford threatened to move the project to its Oakville, Ont., assembly plant. Now the plan is for the sport wagons, to be built off the Mazda6 platform, to emerge as 2007 models from the existing Atlanta plant, thus displacing the Taurus and Sable currently assembled there.

Roadsters: VW’s Concept R Today, 1903’s Winton

There is nothing like a roadster to create buzz for a brand. That reality of automotive life was evidenced at the Frankfurt show when Volkswagen took the wraps off its “Concept R” roadster that Chairman and CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder described as “an interesting proposition for VW” in Ward’s Automotive Reports (September 22) and will hopefully add “excitement” to the German-built brand. Concept R is unusual for sporting a trapezoidal V crease in the front grille. Similar hopes have been expressed for the revived Mazda RX8 and Chrysler Crossfire —both introduced this past summer — and the Ford GT and Pontiac GTO coming in 2005.

With Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Thunderbird toasting their 50th anniversaries, the current period stands out as affirmation of the power of the two-seater to light consumer fires. Pischetsrieder, nothing that VW subsidiary Audi has benefited from the TT, hinted that the Concept R might furnish a template for VW. But he told Ward’s Automotive Reports that any VW roadster should have a mid-engine to solve any drivability problems, which the VW group lacks at present.

Roadster addicts got a nostalgic treat last week when documentary-maker Ken Burns previewed his GM-sponsored film “Horatio’s Drive” on the first cross-country trek, made in 1903, from San Francisco to New York — in a topless Winton. The film will be shown on PBS television on October 6 at 9 p.m. eastern time and is a salute to offroad driving at a time when highways did not exist. Meanwhile, VW’s Concept R, and a bevy of roadsters that have been revealed or kept under cover, will be exhibited at the Detroit show in January. —Mac Gordon

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


European consumers express a strong interest in a number of today's emerging automotive technologies, but most are not willing to buy many of these features unless manufacturers lower the price, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 European Automotive Emerging Technologies Study(SM) released today. The study examines consumer awareness and future demand for eleven automotive technologies across Germany, France and the United Kingdom.


Name Symbol Last Chg
AUTOLIV ALV 30.55 +0.06
AMER AXLE & MANU AXL 29.31 -0.85
BORG WARNER BWA 69.81 -0.02
CUMMINS INC CUM 45.49 -1.02
DANA CORP DCN 15.50 -0.15
DELPHI CORP DPH 9.18 -0.15
EATON CORP ETN 89.47 -1.89
FORD MOTOR CO F 11.00 -0.15
GENTEX CORP GNTX 35.08 -0.11
HONDA MOTOR CO HMC 20.96 -0.13
LEAR CORP LEA 53.48 -0.14
MAGNA INTNL MGA 72.15 -0.40
TOWER AUTO TWR 4.86 -0.19
TOYOTA MOTOR TM 60.30 -0.20
UNIT AUTO GRP UAG 22.95 -0.55
VISTEON CORP VC 6.56 -0.20

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