DAILY EDITION: Dec. 16, 2003

December 15, 2003

TCC'S DAILY EDITION: Dec. 16, 2003

Annual Car/Truck of the Year Finalists Announced

The drum roll will have to continue for another three weeks, but at least the finalists for North American Car and Truck of the Year have been announced. On the passenger-car side, the Cadillac XLR, Mazda RX-8, and Toyota Prius were the top-three vote getters, while the Caddy SRX, Ford F-150, and Nissan Titan were top contenders for the truck award. Final results will be announced on January 4th, kicking off the first press day at the 2004 North American International Auto Show, in Detroit. A total of 49 journalists — representing some of the top automotive media, including TCC — participated in NACTOY balloting this year.

2004 Mazda RX-8 by Dan Carney (7/14/2003)
Rotary fans can rejoice: the Wankel’s back.

2004 Cadillac XLR by TCC Team (5/26/2003)
A new lease on sportscar life for GM’s rapid social climber.

2004 Toyota Prius by John Pearley Huffman (8/25/2003)
As close as Toyota comes to making a Ferrari.

2004 Cadillac SRX by TCC Team (7/7/2003)
Redefining a niche, reshaping a brand.

2004 Ford F-150 by Marc K. Stengel (7/7/2003)
Ford stakes its very future on the success of a dramatic redesign of the best-selling F-150 pickup.

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

Fuel Cells Could Launch Abroad

To stage an aggressive transition to hydrogen power, the auto industry may have to launch fuel cell sales abroad, rather than in the United States, according to a senior General Motors executive. GM has been one of the most vocal proponents of fuel cell technology, and while some of its competitors are backing off on plans to introduce fuel cell vehicles, or FCVs to the public, GM still hopes to hit market by 2010, says Byron McCormick, director of GM’s Alternative Propulsion Center. McCormick admits there are some serious obstacles to overcome: the technology is still costly and unreliable, for one thing, and there’s the need to establish a production and distribution infrastructure to deliver hydrogen to motorists. GM is “not cocky but confident” that it can overcome both challenges, says McCormick, though creating a hydrogen infrastructure likely would cost upwards of $10 billion. Part of the challenge is that the U.S. population is so spread out, and even servicing just the 100 largest cities would require at least 11,000 filling stations. “The U.S. is a tough place to introduce this in,” says McCormick, adding that it’s “entirely possible” the first consumer market for FCVs could emerge abroad. Where? Perhaps in Japan, a nation with dense population centers, lots of pollution, and a costly dependence on imported oil. Then there’s China, which is only now setting up a public energy infrastructure, and which also wants to minimize dependence on oil imports. —TCC Team

Investors Want Progress on Warming by Joseph Szczesny (11/24/2003)
Environmental concerns want to leverage their power to get big companies to clean up.

BMW 6-Series Cabrio Coming to Motown

2004 BMW 645Ci

2004 BMW 645Ci

BMW will use the upcoming Detroit auto show to showcase the ragtop version of its new 6-Series coupe, the company said this week. The new 645Ci convertible shares its 4.4-liter V-8 with the 645Ci Coupe, and makes 325 hp through any of the three transmissions BMW will offer on it: a six-speed manual, a six-speed Steptronic automatic, or a six-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) with Formula 1–style shifting. The convertible will hit 60 mph in roughly six seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. A DVD navigation system will be standard.

Porsche Sales Can Double As Is

The start of Peter Schwarzenbauer’s tenure as President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America last March began with unenthusiastic reviews of Porsche’s “bet the company” Cayenne and a war in the Middle East to wilt many wallets that might have opened for Porsche’s first SUV.

Peter Schwarzenbauer

Peter Schwarzenbauer

Peter Schwarzenbauer

Peter Schwarzenbauer

Heading into a new year, though, Schwarzenbauer’s outlook for Porsche is very rosy regardless of whether the German company launches a fourth model line as has been rumored. “We can double sales in the years to come even without a fourth model,” says the one-time BMW executive who went to Porsche almost a decade ago. That goes for both worldwide sales and North America, though he wouldn’t say just how many years to come.

Porsche Sales Can Double As Is by Jim Burt (12/15/2003)
PCNA head says brand doesn’t need a fourth model to prosper.

Smart USA Getting Two-Seater, Too

The coming of Mercedes-Benz’ Smart franchise to the U.S. is unfolding rapidly as MBUSA prepares for a 2006 launch. Last week Scott Keogh was named to steering the marketing for the new division, which will bring an SUV developed from the Smart forfour platform to the U.S. in 2006. Now, Automotive News reports that Smart will also federalize the next generation of the two-seat city Smart car and import it to the United States. Due in 2008, the replacement for the City Coupe and Cabrio could boost the Smart brand’s projected sales volumes to more than 60,000 units a year. The current Smart cars were not developed for sale in the U.S., and at 98 inches long, the Smart City Coupe is 45 inches shorter than MINI’s petite Cooper.

2003 Frankfurt Show, Part II by TCC Team (9/15/2003)
A vision from Benz, an estate from Jag, and a wedgie from Mazda.

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases

PRNewswire

Motor Trend, the world’s number one automotive authority and part of the PRIMEDIA Consumer Automotive Group, today announced that Frank Markus will join the editorial staff of Motor Trend as Technical Director. He will be based in the Detroit office. Mr. Markus is an experienced journalist who has worked as a writer, test driver, and Technical Director for Car and Driver magazine. He succeeds former Motor Trend Detroit Bureau Chief Jack Keebler who has joined General Motors in vehicle development and analysis.


THE TICKER

Name Symbol Last Chg
AUTOLIV ALV 37.20 +0.13
AUTONATION INC AN 17.55 +0.02
ARVINMERITOR ARM 21.97 +0.51
AMER AXLE & MANU AXL 37.80 -1.01
BALLARD PWR SYS BLDP 10.86 -0.33
BORG WARNER BWA 83.28 +0.46
COLLINS AIKMAN CKC 3.85 -0.20
CUMMINS INC CMI 47.24 +0.14
DANA CORP DCN 17.06 +0.02
DAIMLERCHRYSLER DCX 43.35 -0.26
DELPHI CORP DPH 9.50 +0.11
EATON CORP ETN 106.78 -0.60
FORD MOTOR CO F 14.28 +0.56
GENERAL MOTORS GM 48.93 -0.86
GENTEX CORP GNTX 42.09 -0.67
GOODYEAR TIRE GT 6.82 -0.05
HONDA MOTOR CO HMC 20.99 +0.08
JOHNSON CONTROLS JCI 111.00 -0.37
LEAR CORP LEA 59.10 -0.69
MAGNA INTNL MGA 77.21 -0.29
MOTOROLA INC MOT 12.79 -0.29
NISSAN MOTORS NSANY 22.451 +0.001
SONIC AUTOMOTIVE SAH 20.80 -0.21
TOWER AUTO TWR 5.45 0.00
TOYOTA MOTOR TM 66.02 +0.18
UNIT AUTO GRP UAG 26.26 +0.62
VISTEON CORP VC 9.07 -0.04

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