DAILY EDITION: Jan. 8, 2003

January 7, 2004


Detroit Show: When Paparazzi Attack!

Downtown Detroit came alive this week when automotive media and industry executives flooded in from all over the world for the 2004 North American International Auto Show. And despite a brief snowstorm and punishingly low temperatures, it was impossible to cool things down inside Cobo Hall, which barely could contain more than 60 new production vehicles and concept cars and trucks. Here’s what TCC saw in between the intros:

2004 Detroit Auto Show Coverage by TCC Team (1/5/2004)

Benz Reveals New SLK

2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK

2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK

Enlarge Photo
Afore its 2005 model-year introduction, Mercedes-Benz has issued the first pictures of its next SLK roadster. The new shape owes much to the SLR supercar just introduced last fall. The new engine is a 3.5-liter six-cylinder, four-valve engine; a new suspension and braking system, Benz claims, “deliver a new level of driving performance.” The retractable hardtop has been re-engineered to open and close faster than ever before, and incorporates a pivoting rear window for increased trunk space. The new SLK debuts for North America at the New York Auto Show in April.

2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren by TCC Team (11/24/2003)
Two seats, eight cylinders, 617 horsepower, and $400,000 – but does it add up?

Lampe Retiring from Bridgestone

John Lampe, CEO of Bridgestone Americas and the man who helped revive Bridgestone in the U.S. after the Firestone tire recall of 2000, will retire in March. Lampe, 56, became the CEO of the tire company’s U.S operations just two months after the recall of 6.5 million tires damaged the company’s public image and led to a historic severance of its ties with Ford Motor Company. Lampe will be succeeded by Mark Emkes, 50, the current CEO of the company’s North American operations.

Ford Replacing 13 Million Tires by TCC Team (5/28/2001)
A nasty divorce gets even costlier.

Ford, Suzuki Cutting Rental Sales

In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rental car, according to one bit of recycled wisdom from the management consulting crowd. But apparently no one is going to build them either. Steve Lyons, president of the Ford Division, which has been a regular supplier of rental car fleets, said during an interview at the North American International Auto Show that Ford scaled back on rental car sales in 2003 and plans to scale back some more in 2004. James Padilla, Ford executive vice president, said Ford halted production of more than 50,000 Ford Tauruses destined for rental fleets and wound up improving its bottom line. "It's a triple whammy," he suggested. The manufacturer discounts the car initially when it’s sold to the rental company; the return of the rental cars units undercuts residual values and then the manufacturer winds up offering larger incentives because the returned rental units compete with new models at the dealership, Lyons noted. Cutting back on sales to rental car fleets also should help clear the way for introduction of new passenger cars such as Ford Five Hundred and Ford Freestyle, Lyons added. Koichi Suzuki, the president of automotive operations at American Suzuki Motor Corp., also said Suzuki has decided to reduce sales to rental car companies. Suzuki sales plunged more than 40 percent in the December in part because of the company's decision to reduce sales to the rental companies, he added. Nevertheless, Suzuki still expects its sales to grow to 100,000 units by next year, he said. —Joe Szczesny

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