DAILY EDITION: Oct. 7, 2003

October 6, 2003

TCC'S DAILY EDITION: Oct. 7, 2003

RELAY Gets Saturn’s First Metal Bod

When it joins the rest of the Saturn lineup in the 2005 model year, the RELAY “crossover sport van” won’t just be Saturn’s first minivan —it’ll be the brand’s first vehicle with a mostly sheetmetal body. Most Saturns — the ION, VUE, and L300 — feature bodies that blend horizontal sheetmetal surfaces (roofs, hoods, and decklids) with polymer vertical panels, like doors and fenders. The RELAY will be one of four new GM minivans styled and pitched as “crossover”-style minivan alternatives: the RELAY will be joined by the Uplander (replacing the Chevy Venture), the Buick Terrazza, and the Pontiac SV6. Saturn tells Automotive News that the ION and VUE will retain their plastic panels for the near future, but the weekly says the next L-Series vehicle will likely have a sheetmetal body.

SATURN by Bob Plunkett (9/1/2003)

Ford Going South of the Border for Futura

2006 Ford Futura

2006 Ford Futura

It sounds a little too prescient, given last week’s UAW contract signings: the Futura of Ford is moving to Mexico. The company said on Monday that the coming 2006 model-year sedan will be built at an expanded plant in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, beginning in 2005. The plant currently builds versions of the Focus compact (ZX3/ZX5 and the SVT Focus), and will expand and likely add 2000 workers to accommodate production of the new, Mazda6-derived four-door. Once the expansion is complete, the factory will have the capability to produce about 300,000 vehicles each year. The plant also will be able to build Lincoln and Mercury-brand vehicles derived from the same platform — part of Ford’s move to make many of its North American factories “flexible” plants, capable of producing many different models on the same lines. The Mazda6 platform will spawn up to ten new Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln vehicles in the next few years, including a pair of sport wagons to be built at Ford’s Atlanta, Ga., plant.

Ford Atlanta Plant Seeks Lease on Life by Joseph Szczesny (9/1/2003)
Quality may be number one, but it’s not a guarantee.

UAW Ratifies GM, Delphi Deals

GM and Delphi are the last automakers and suppliers to put the ink to their recent deals with the United Auto Workers. The union says it has ratified the new four-year deal with the world’s biggest automaker and its former captive parts supplier, now independent. The new contract will allow GM to close one of its assembly plants and one parts plant; the deal is essentially similar to that enjoined with Ford and Visteon, which keeps the current pay package (with raises) and healthcare benefits intact. “We accomplished our major bargaining goals and are pleased that the membership expressed confidence in those efforts,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger in a release. The contracts cover nearly 150,000 workers at GM and Delphi.

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

GM Shareholders Want to Spin Off Hughes

Shareholders in General Motors have approved the spin-off of Hughes Electronics and the deal that would give News Corp. 34 percent interest in the company, GM said on Monday. The company reports that more than 65 percent of its stockholders approved of the deal, and some 94 percent of shares were voted in favor of the deal, which would bring the company roughly $6 billion in exchange for its interest in the parent company of DirecTV. News Corp. and GM are expected to finish the deal by the end of the year or early in 2004.

Feds Studying Ford Diesels

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into a possible defect in some Ford heavy-duty trucks and SUVs equipped with the company’s diesel engine and power adjustable pedals. The NHTSA is investigating about 101,000 vehicles in all — all 2002 and 2003 F-Series Super Duty trucks and Excursion SUVs after six complaints were logged, charging that the vehicles lost power. An engine sensor may not work properly with the adjustable pedals, leading to a loss of power. Of the six complaints, the AP reports, one involved a crash or fire; no injuries have been noted.

Goodyear Closing Shop in Ala.

Goodyear made its planned plant closing in north Alabama official on Monday. The company, in the throes of a restructuring and fresh from sealing a new labor deal with its workforce, will close the Dunlop tire plant in Huntsville that employs about 1100 people. The company says the plant will close before December 5. The company will offer workers at the plant priority in finding other jobs at another Goodyear plant in Gadsden, Ala.

DAILY IN DEPTH


L-M Chief Back in Action at Dealer Event

It’s not often that the president or general manager of an automaker comes to a big dealership event, but Lincoln-Mercury chief Darryl B. Hazel, 55, has been working with dealers for his entire 31-year career at Ford and will attend Thursday’s (October 9) dedication of the renovated Bob-Boyd L-M store in Columbus, Ohio. Called a “dealer guy” by Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealers, Hazel became L-M president in August, 2002, only eight months after taking charge of the Customer Service Division. He suffered serious injuries after a fall on an icy airplane ladder last February en route to the Chicago auto show and just recently resumed full-time work at the L-M helm.

With L-M sales on a decline this year and the division preparing for launch of a raft of new models, Hazel is going out on dealer visits to spur the division’s recovery programs. Bob-Boyd L-M has invested approximately $800,000 in upgrading its new location, a former Oldsmobile store, just off the I-70 in west Columbus. Renovations include an all-new showroom, enhanced signage, an updated body shop and expanded service area. A L-M dealer in the Ohio capital for 33 years, Bob-Boyd also owns Dodge, Ford, and Mazda dealerships in Lancaster, Ohio. Thursday’s dedication will include a display of Mercury’s new Monterey minivan, the first of a new-model blitz Hazel will oversee for Lincoln and Mercury through 2005. —Mac Gordon

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


PRNewswire

Chrysler Group active employees can take advantage of a unique opportunity to lease a select group of 2004 Chrysler, Jeep(R) and Dodge vehicles for twelve months with one payment of $2000 — and no monthly payments after that — under a new program announced today. The eligible vehicles are popularly equipped models of the 2004 Chrysler Sebring Sedan, Dodge Stratus Sedan SXT, Dakota Regular Cab SXT pickup truck, and Jeep Wrangler X. The nationwide program is open to active DaimlerChrysler UAW employees and non-bargaining employees from October 6 through November 10.


THE TICKER

Name Symbol Last Chg
AUTOLIV ALV 31.61 +0.19
AUTONATION INC AN 18.48 +0.18
ARVINMERITOR ARM 18.01 -0.09
AMER AXLE & MANU AXL 31.18 +0.45
BALLARD PWR SYS BLDP 14.62 +0.42
BORG WARNER BWA 74.50 +0.85
COLLINS AIKMAN CKC 2.44 +0.01
CUMMINS INC CUM 49.50 +1.27
DANA CORP DCN 15.55 -0.04
DAIMLERCHRYSLER DCX 35.94 +0.36
DELPHI CORP DPH 9.26 -0.07
EATON CORP ETN 95.32 +1.32
FORD MOTOR CO F 11.39 -0.02
GENERAL MOTORS GM 41.82 +0.38
GENTEX CORP GNTX 37.08 +0.23
GOODYEAR TIRE GT 6.91 -0.09
HONDA MOTOR CO HMC 20.84 +0.20
JOHNSON CONTROLS JCI 99.94 +0.79
LEAR CORP LEA 57.63 +0.12
MAGNA INTNL MGA 75.45 +0.30
MOTOROLA INC MOT 13.50 +1.22
NISSAN MOTORS NSANY 22.62 -0.26
SONIC AUTOMOTIVE SAH 27.08 +0.28
TOWER AUTO TWR 4.90 +0.20
TOYOTA MOTOR TM 63.05 +0.80
UNIT AUTO GRP UAG 26.78 +0.46
VISTEON CORP VC 6.85 +0.08

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