DAILY EDITION: Jan. 20, 2003

January 19, 2004

TCC'S DAILY EDITION: Jan. 20, 2004

Automakers Anxious for a Better 2004

The consensus around the auto industry is that 2004 is going to be a good year. The basic assumption is that the economy will grow at a 4-percent or 4.5-percent rate this year and consumer confidence, another necessary ingredient for sales, is getting stronger. Indeed, the optimists got a lift last week when the University of Michigan monthly survey of consumer confidence posted a substantial gain. Nevertheless, anxiety about prospect of a hollow recovery was evident during the annual Automotive News World Congress in Dearborn, Mich. Kathleen Ligocki, the chief executive officer of Tower Automotive, put her finger on some of the undercurrents at work in the industry during her keynote address. Nagging fears of higher inflation and rising interest rates, of a slowdown in rate of economic growth and a further weakening of the dollar, she noted are chief among the industry's concerns. In addition, manufacturers are continuing to press suppliers for price reductions even though demand for new vehicles remains relatively stable.

Automakers Anxious for a Better 2004 (1/19/2004)
But nothing’s certain in this recovery, many worry.

Smart adds formore for U.S.

2006 smart formore

2006 smart formore

Enlarge Photo
In 2006, smart will add a fourth model to its range, a sport-utility vehicle named formore. It is the fourth model and will be the first to be introduced on the North American market. Smart introduced its first micro car in Europe in 1998 and added a convertible version, the City Coupe. Last year, the Roadster and Coupe were introduced, whereas the smart forfour, a four-seater, will arrive at the European smart dealerships any moment now. The formore will be built in the DaimlerChrysler plant in Brazil, which has a capacity of 60,000 cars. Smart hopes to sell 30,000 yearly in the U.S. Andreas Renschler, President of smart gmbh says that “the formore is distinctive and unique, so unique that we translated SUV as smart utility vehicle”. The new model will be equipped with all-wheel drive and will be suited to all road and driving conditions. -- Henny Hemmes

Toyota Intensifies Design Efforts

Toyota, long considered the auto industry's most efficient car maker, is moving to put more emphasis on design. During a recent appearance at the College for the Center of Creative Studies in Detroit, Hideichi Misono, senior general manager of the Toyota Design Center, said his company is steadily expanding the scope of its design efforts. "We are expanding our design base throughout the world because we believe it is important for design work to be done in direct contact with the daily lives of our customers in the places where they live," said Misono, a veteran stylist who joined Toyota back in 1969 and who was among the first employees at Toyota Design Center in California when it opened in the 1970s.

Toyota Intensifies Design Effort (1/19/2004)
Giving Lexus a distinct image is number one on the priority list.

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) today announced that 808,833 people attended the show this year, making it the second highest attendance in show history. Other NAIAS records include $7 million raised at the Charity Preview and an unprecedented attendance of 29,500 for Industry Preview Days. "The North American International Auto Show is a world-class event that positively impacts local exhibit companies, show attendees, charities, businesses, and our residents every year," said Chuck Fortinberry, NAIAS senior co-chairman. "This year, the more than 79 vehicle introductions set the pace for the industry for the year and kicks off what we expect to be a banner sales year." Show visitors saw more than 700 vehicles, including more than 55 worldwide introductions. The NAIAS 2004 Committee attributed strong attendance to the world-class vehicles on display at this year's show, Detroiters' passion for automobiles and a variety of family-friendly events.

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