DAILY EDITION: Oct. 15, 2003

October 14, 2003

TCC'S DAILY EDITION: Oct. 15, 2003

Spy Shots: 2005 Chevy Corvette

2005 Chevrolet Corvette

2005 Chevrolet Corvette

Don’t look for a carbon-fiber body and aluminum hydroformed frame on the new C6 Corvette — they’re reserved for the Le Mans effort. But shown here is the latest spy photo of the C6 Corvette coupe, photographed just hours ago. Evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the double-bubble roof contrasts with knife-edge fenders fore and aft that extend into the doors, a la the ’63-’67 ’Vette. See more inside TCC today:

Spy Shots: 2005 Chevy Corvette (10/14/2003)
Fenders flares and more flair for the sixth-gen Corvette.

Spy Shots: 2005 Maserati Spyder/Coupe

2005 Maserati Spyder

2005 Maserati Spyder

The Italian carmaker Maserati in Modena is preparing a facelift for the company’s Coupe and Spyder model range. The photos are showing two prototypes during tests in Modena. As can be seen, the cars will have a new front end, which is still taped for disguise, a chrome air vent on the side, new aluminum wheels, and mild changes of the interior. The facelifted Maseratis are expected next year.

Spy Shots: ’05 Maserati Coupe/Spyder by Hans Lehmann/Hidden Image (10/13/2003)
A shot in the styling arm for an Italian semi-exotic.

Spy Shots: 2005 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

2005 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

2005 Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Earlier this year we had several close up but heavily camouflaged pictures of the 2005 M-Class. But now, pictures taken in Germany show much more of the actual shape, sheetmetal, and glass. The 2005 M-Class will be of unibody construction. Standard features will include a brake-by-wire system borrowed from the SL, and the COMAND II satellite navigation system, as well as a multi-function steering wheel. Options will include a computer-controlled air suspension.

Spy Shots: ‘05 Mercedes M-Class by Brenda Priddy (10/13/2003)
Shaping up in Alabama and Germany.

Honda Previews Three Tokyo Concepts

Honda says of the nineteen vehicles it will show at next week’s Tokyo Motor Show, three will be advanced concepts that push Honda’s hybrid and green technologies. They are:

2003 Honda HSC concept

2003 Honda HSC concept


the HSC, a hybrid sports car in a compact package;

2003 Honda IMAS concept

2003 Honda IMAS concept

the IMAS, another hybrid sports car with an emphasis on light weight and aerodynamics;

2003 Honda KIWAMI

2003 Honda KIWAMI

and the KIWAMI, a showcase for fuel-cell technology.

Ford Earnings Seen Lower As Europe Drags

Sales at Ford Europe dropped 5.1 percent in September despite a strong month for the automobile market as a whole, making Ford the worst performer among Europeans last month. Ford reports third-quarter earnings this week, and Wall Street is expecting a loss of 12 cents a share, according to Bloomberg, compared with earnings of 15 cents a share predicted by Ford. Ford has already installed a new CEO, Louis Booth, at Ford Europe. The company is slashing jobs and material cost and is mulling a new round of sales incentives to reduce bloated inventories. The only hope for Ford meeting its earnings target this quarter is a better-than-expected sales run in North America in August and September.—Jim Burt

Book Review: “End of Detroit” by Jim Burt (10/13/2003)
End of Detroit provocative, if not always sound.

Bugatti Gets New Head

The new man in charge at VW’s Bugatti brand is Thomas Bscher, a former racecar driver and banking executive. Reuters reports Bscher will take the place of Karl-Heinz Neumann, who is retiring after 30 years with Volkswagen. Bscher takes charge in December; the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is still rumored for production sometime in 2004.


Hyundai Fuming Over DC-China Deal

South Korea’s Hyundai is up in arms over a deal to build cars in China involving its alliance partner DaimlerChrysler and China’s Beijing Automotive. Reuters reports that Hyundai is upset over a $1.1 billion deal that would result in Mercedes-Benz cars being built in China by Beijing Automotive, which already has a deal with Hyundai to build their cars for the booming Chinese market. Hyundai says its 2002 deal prevents Beijing Automotive from seeking other automotive partners. A Hyundai spokesman told Reuters that the company is not seeking a legal remedy at this point.

DAILY IN DEPTH

NHTSA Study Finds More Weight Can Equal Safer Vehicles

Federal regulators Tuesday said a new study shows reducing the weight of vehicles, done mostly to improve fuel economy, has resulted in more traffic deaths, especially among small-car owners. The study shows that until tougher standards are set for automakers to design trucks and SUVs to inflict less damage on other vehicles in crashes by way of vehicle height standards and bumper designs, occupants of heavier SUVs and trucks that get poor fuel economy will be safer than occupants of lighter vehicles.

The study was done in preparation for NHTSA’s future rulemaking on both fuel economy and side-impact crash standards, said agency spokesman Rae Tyson. Tyson said the study should not be interpreted to mean that fuel economy improvement and safety are at odds. “It is very possible for SUVs and light trucks to go on a diet without compromising safety,” said Tyson. Among the study’s conclusions:

Modest weight reductions of at least 100 pounds in the heaviest trucks and SUVs weighing more than 5000 pounds could save hundreds of lives per year.

Weight reductions in trucks and SUVs weighing less than 5000 pounds and most passenger cars could increase fatalities among occupants of those vehicles because of their disadvantage to larger vehicles.

The most fuel efficient and often least expensive cars, very small cars, experience the most fatalities — 11.56 per billion miles traveled, about twice the fatality rate of small and mid-size SUVs and four times the fatality rate of minivans.

The study highlights how goals of better fuel economy have been at odds with safety. “Automakers believe that the report confirms what we've known for a long time — that downsizing and down-weighting vehicles has an adverse impact on safety,” said Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spokesman Eron Shosteck. But the new study also shows how weight reductions in some vehicle types can be bad for the vehicle’s owner, but better for other vehicles’ owners. When light trucks weighing 3870 pounds or more lose 100 pounds of weight, fatalities in those vehicles increase about three percent in single-vehicle accidents. But those lives lost are outweighed by the lives saved in two-vehicle crashes because fewer people in the lighter-weight vehicles are killed.

Critics of the study say NHTSA has placed too much emphasis on weight and too little on design. And advocates of better fuel economy such as Public Citizen and Union of Concerned Scientists fear that automakers will use the NHTSA study to defeat tougher fuel-economy standards. “What I fear is this study for many is going to reinforce the fallacy that weight determines safety, and that’s not good information for consumers,” said David Friedman, research director for the Union of Concerned Scientists. —Jim Burt

DAILY EDITION: Oct. 8, 2003 by TCC Team (10/7/2003)
NHTSA rolls out rollover test, Power likes European brands.

Titan’s Job 1 Set for October 17

If last week was the week of the “Governator” (California governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger), this is the week of the Titan as Nissan’s long-awaited full-size truck enters production October 17 at Canton, Miss. What Titan will “terminate,” says Business Week Magazine (October 20 issue), is “Detroit’s last niche” in the new-vehicle market.

Going on sale at Nissan dealerships December 1, the Titan joins the Toyota Tundra in the pickup truck field but is fully competitive in size, with a 300-horsepower V-8 engine and 9500 pounds of towing capacity. The Tundra is about 5/6 the size of the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado, a shortfall that Toyota is moving to erase. A Double Cab version of the Tundra, with a larger four-seat cabin, will go on sale next month and a longer second-generation model of the Tundra will arrive in 2006 at a new plant near San Antonio, Texas, for which Toyota is breaking ground next week.

All in all, the Titan and Tundra will add about 250,000 trucks to the 2.3 million sold annually in the U.S, says Business Week Detroit bureau chief, Kathleen Kerwin. Titan is rolling out with not only a powerful engine and excellent towing ability, but also a roomy cabin with four seats (no bench-seat-only body style) and such innovations as sliding truck-bed dividers and a built-in toolbox. Prices will be disclosed closer to the December rollout, but they are expected to start at the $20,000 level of Silverado and Dodge Ram, whereas the F-150 begins at $22,000. —Mac Gordon

2004 Nissan Titan Crew Cab by TCC Team (9/29/2003)
Is Nissan’s Titan-ic pickup unsinkable?

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases

PRNewswire

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed fuel economy estimates for the all-new 2004 Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle. When Prius goes on sale this week it will carry an EPA fuel economy rating of 60 MPG in the city and 51 MPG on the highway with a combined city/highway rating of 55 MPG. The estimated mileage ratings represent a significant increase over the previous-generation Prius, which registered a combined fuel economy rating of 48 MPG. And like the previous model, Prius never needs to be plugged in for recharging.


THE TICKER

Name Symbol Last Chg
AUTOLIV ALV 32.41 +0.25
AUTONATION INC AN 18.87 +0.10
ARVINMERITOR ARM 17.89 +0.04
AMER AXLE & MANU AXL 32.90 +0.55
BALLARD PWR SYS BLDP 14.25 -0.15
BORG WARNER BWA 78.43 +1.08
COLLINS AIKMAN CKC 3.20 -0.15
CUMMINS INC CUM 51.35 +0.10
DANA CORP DCN 15.72 +0.05
DAIMLERCHRYSLER DCX 37.12 +0.29
DELPHI CORP DPH 9.24 +0.15
EATON CORP ETN 98.90 +3.16
FORD MOTOR CO F 11.95 -0.02
GENERAL MOTORS GM 43.97 +0.43
GENTEX CORP GNTX 38.81 +0.03
GOODYEAR TIRE GT 7.10 -0.04
HONDA MOTOR CO HMC 20.47 -0.05
JOHNSON CONTROLS JCI 104.93 +1.07
LEAR CORP LEA 62.04 +0.92
MAGNA INTNL MGA 78.92 +1.25
MOTOROLA INC MOT 13.57 -0.30
NISSAN MOTORS NSANY 22.93 +0.10
SONIC AUTOMOTIVE SAH 28.64 +0.49
TOWER AUTO TWR 5.15 +0.20
TOYOTA MOTOR TM 63.22 +0.22
UNIT AUTO GRP UAG 28.35 +0.62
VISTEON CORP VC 7.00 +0.07

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