DAILY EDITION: Dec. 1, 2003

December 1, 2003


DB9 Droptop for Detroit

2005 Aston Martin DB9 Volante

2005 Aston Martin DB9 Volante

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Aston Martin will show a convertible version of its DB9 at the Detroit auto show in January. It will be called the DB9 Volante and will be built alongside the DB9 Coupe, which was launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Both models will be hand-built at Aston Martin Gaydon with the Coupe being delivered to customers in Spring 2004 and the Volante in Autumn 2004. It is expected that more than 2000 DB9 models will be sold next year, of which around 50 percent will be the Volante model. Pricing will be announced at a later date.

Dr Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin said: “From the outset of the DB9 programme we knew we wanted a convertible model. So the Volante has been designed, engineered and built from the outset as a convertible — it’s not a Coupe with just the top taken off.
“The DB9 Volante has all of the traditional styling cues you’d expect from a convertible Aston Martin. It’s very elegant and perfectly proportioned from every angle, while subtle embellishments help create a powerful-looking sports car.”

The top retracts within just 17 seconds. When down, it folds behind a hard tonneau cover, which then electrically closes flush with the DB9’s bodywork. In the event of an accident, sensors in the DB9 Volante detect the risk of a potential rollover and two roll hoops are deployed from the rear seat headrests, while front seat passengers are protected by the windscreen A-pillars which can withstand twice the total weight of the car. —Ian Norris

Chrysler Execs Continue Shuffling On

The Chrysler Group has reshuffled the management of its marketing operations by announcing the retirement of two senior managers and the reassigment of half a dozen more as the group prepares for the critical launches of nine new vehicles in 2004. The launch challenge has been amplified by criticism the Chrysler Group has drawn for the lackluster introduction of the Pacifica and the signing of a $14 million contract with singer Celine Dion from which the company has gotten little mileage and more critical comment. Many analysts now believe the Chrysler Group faces a huge competitive challenge as tries to rebuild its retail market share despite the new product introductions, which will include new models like the Chrysler 300C, the PT Cruiser convertible, and next fall, the replacement for the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Chrysler Executives Continue Shuffling On (11/30/2003)
Marinelli, Donlon, and Brust the latest to depart Auburn Hills.

Toyota: Scion a Fountain of Youth

2002 Toyota CCX concept

2002 Toyota CCX concept

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Now that the Scion xA and xB have been on sale in California for nearly six months, in a presentation to the press, Scion vice president Jim Farley reports with rough figures that the xA and xB are actually reaching their target demographic. Scion, Toyota's recently launched youth brand, is Toyota's attempt to reach out to younger buyers. If successful, the brand intends to boost volume to 100,000 units in 2005 with the addition of a third coupe model, called the tC.

Toyota: Scion a Fountain of Youth (11/30/2003)
Scion’s back-door, youth-oriented marketing approach is working, Farley reports.

Comerica: Vehicles More Affordable

Cars, trucks, sport-utility vehicles, and minivans are more affordable but consumers are taking more time to pay off their car loans, according to two new surveys from Comerica Bank in Detroit and Edmunds.com. On balance the reports point to stronger sales, analysts said. David Littman, Comerica Bank vice president and chief economist, reported the purchase of an average-priced new vehicle during the third quarter of 2003 took 19.9 weeks of median family income to pay off, before taxes, according to the Auto Affordability Index compiled by the Detroit-based bank. The third-quarter reading is 0.1 week more affordable than second quarter's 20.0 weeks, Littman said.

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