TCC'S DAILY EDITION: Feb. 3, 2004
Auto Stocks Down on Ratings, Softening Earnings
Lache downgraded Ford from hold to sell and lowered Ford’s price target to $12.00 based on the bank’s uncertainty about Ford hitting its mid-decade earnings goal. Signals from the Federal Reserve that higher interest rates are looming spells trouble for automakers who have been leaning on zero-percent loans and extremely low rates that allow consumers with negative equity trade-ins to roll the money they owe into a new auto loan. Higher rates will make that less appealing to consumers. On Friday, Goldman Sachs downgraded GM stock while holding Ford’s rating. —Jim Burt
Kerry: U.S. Needs More Efficient Vehicles by Joseph Szczesny (2/2/2004)
Democratic candidate will need Detroit against Bush.
Chevy, Caddy Score Big in Super Bowl Ads
Ads for Chevrolet and Cadillac didn’t finish in the top ten most popular Super Bowl commercials, according to USA Today’s annual Ad Meter. But they scored very high and beat the usually much hipper Mitsubishi advertising. A Chevy ad showing kids eating soap after presumably uttering expletives while reacting the Chevy SSR scored highest among car ads with a 7.73 rating, good enough for no. 12. The top ad scored 9.04 out of a possible 10.0, and the worst scored 4.08. The Ad Meter is based on the reactions of 136 adults. An ad showing large athletes getting into the Chevy Aveo scored 7.04, and finished 22nd out of 60 ads tracked. The punchline was that the athletes shown inside the car looked like Liliputians in the “roomy” Aveo. A spot for the Dodge Magnum scored 6.87 for 27th place. A Cadillac SRX ad scored 6.63 for 33rd. The Caddy ad showed a cool special effect of Cadillacs speeding like torpedoes through water, capturing the turbulence of the fluid displacement. “Power. Style. Luxury.” “As predicted in the space long ago: Cadillac is back, Jack,” opined Advertising Age critic Bob Garfield. Garfield and Adweek columnist Barbara Lippert both praised the Chevy ad, and felt it was better than some of the top-ten winners. A cliffhanger spot for the Mitsubishi Galant scored relatively poorly, at 6.40 and 39th. The ad showed crash avoidance technology, with the Galant up against the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The ad stopped short of showing how a potential accident ended up, and directed viewers to the company’s Web site. A Honda ad, part of ongoing series about a Pilot owner raised by wolves is very funny, but didn’t tickle too many game viewers. It scored a relatively poor 6.35 for 42nd. A car ad has never won best ad in the newspaper’s Ad Meter, with Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi dominating the winner’s circle every year. It’s a pity given the emotional appeal of automobiles over soft drinks and beer. A Bud Light ad finished number-one in Sunday’s game. —Jim Burt
Cadillac Reveals 2005 STS by TCC Team (1/19/2004)
New full-size, rear-drive sedan to take on Germany's best.
Chrysler Prices New Minivans
2005 Chrysler minivans
2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible by Bob Hall (2/2/2004)
As the PT Cruiser drops its top, will sales go up?
Lincoln-Mercury Launches Ad Blitz
Ford’s domestic luxury brands, often described as staid and out of touch, kicked off barrage of ads Monday in an effort to tweak perception and attract buyers to its lineup of new and old product. According to L-M marketing chief John Fitzpatrick, Lincoln-Mercury general marketing manager, the company will air about ten new television ads on shows like ABC’s “World News Tonight,” “CBS Evening News,” as well as cable channels such as HGTV and the Food Network. Earvin “Magic” Johnson will serve as spokesman for Lincoln in some ads airing on ESPN and during basketball games. Lincoln-Mercury ads will also grace the pages of The New York Times and USA Today, as well as magazines such as People, Newsweek, and AARP Monthly. The adverts are meant to communicate technology, spontaneity, and American elegance. —John D. Stoll
Crises Test Suppliers, Automakers
Everything from terrorism on 9/11, to severe weather and disruptions to the electric grid have rocked the auto industry in North America over the past couple of years and forced automakers to take a close look at their preparations for emergencies. Indeed only last week, the roof of General Motors Service Parts Operation warehouse and processing plant outside Flint, Mich., collapsed under the weight of blowing snow that had created drifts an estimated fifteen feet high on the plant’s roof. Fortunately, no one was hurt and GM and the plant went back into operation shortly after GM officials made an assessment of the damage to the plant. In the face of the chronic security issues, the Automotive Industry Action Group in Southfield, Mich., has developed guidelines to help companies, large and small, both survive and recover from both natural and man-made disasters.
Crises Test Suppliers, Automakers (2/1/2004)
Better crisis management planned in wake of severe weather and national emergencies.
Small Cars Making a Comeback?
“If we’d listened to the market research, we’d have never done the MINI,” says the British brand’s U.S. boss, Jack Pitney. The fact is, for most American motorists, bigger is better. So how explain the success of the pint-sized import, which despite its diminutive dimensions proved one of the hits of 2003? That’s the question a lot of automakers are asking as they rethink their own small-car strategies. Before the decade is out, an assortment of domestic and foreign makers, including General Motors, BMW, Mazda, and Mercedes-Benz, are expected to weigh in with their own MINI and microcars. The question is whether these new products will tap into a new market niche or prove fanciful failures.
Small Cars Making a Comeback? (2/1/2004)
Against all odds, small cars seem to be in the midst of a revival.
WORLD REPORT: Europe by Ian Norris
GM Opens Geneva’s Preview Parade
2005 Opel Tigra
The Tigra, which takes over the name of a small coupe that started life as a Frankfurt show concept and went into production between 1994 and 2000, is a two-seater that will be sold with 1.4-liter 90-hp and 1.8-liter 125-hp Ecotec four-cylinder power units. Initially it will be sold only with a five-speed manual transmission, to appeal to sporting drivers. It’s likely, however, that an automatic box will be made available to satisfy the women drivers who form a large proportion of European coupe/convertible buyers.
The Tigra will be produced for GM in France by Heuliez, the body-building specialists that have become experts in the development and manufacture of retractable hardtops. It will go on sale in the late summer of this year under GM’s two European nameplates: Vauxhall in Britain, and Opel in the rest of Europe.
Geneva Launch for Toyota’s Compact Euro-MPV
2004 Toyota Corolla Verso
The major competition between the manufacturers making C-segment MPVs in Europe is not just the total number of seats that can be used, but how many of those seats can be stowed away completely when they are not required. GM scored points with its Zafira, in which the rearmost of the three rows of seats folds away into a flat floor. Toyota, however, is claiming an advantage by engineering the Verso in such a manner that all five rear seats fold into the floor, providing a flat load area.
Design cues have been taken from both MPVs, which have influenced the bulk of the lower half of the car, and conventional cars and coupes, which give the Verso its flowing roofline.
A Truck With French Accent
2004 Renault Deck'up Concept
Based on a van rather than a car, the Deck’up is big — a fact that can be judged from the way in which the 20-inch wheels look positively MINI-sized in comparison to the bulk of the vehicle. The concept seems to draw its inspiration from a series of Japanese concepts of the mid-1980s, when every local manufacturer was building cars aimed at birdwatchers and those who appreciated the great outdoors. It therefore has a rear loadspace designed for two people with binoculars, rather than the motorbikes, building materials or coon-dogs that American pickups are meant to carry. In the same perverse way, the four-door, four-seat ‘crew-cab’ offers more space than many five-seater sedans.
The Deck’up has all-wheel drive and is “designed with off-road adventure in mind.” But not, it would seem, America’s view of off-road adventure — the power unit is a 135-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder diesel.
FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases
The Dodge Ram SRT-10 unleashed its Viper power today, taking its place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Fastest Production Pickup Truck.” Only recently off the Saltillo, Mexico, assembly line and not modified in any way for additional power or enhanced aerodynamics, the Dodge Ram SRT-10 posted a two-lap, both-directions average speed of 154.587 mph over a “flying kilometer” on the 4.71-mile oval at the DaimlerChrysler Proving Grounds here in Chelsea. The record run by the Dodge Ram SRT-10 was certified by Guinness World Records and the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). The previous record was 147.54 mph, set last July by the Ford SVT F-150 Lightning, before the Dodge Ram SRT-10 went into production.
|AMER AXLE & MANU||AXL||38.70||-0.06|
|BALLARD PWR SYS||BLDP||11.68||+0.30|
|DURA AUTO SYS||DRRA||14.34||-0.41|
|FORD MOTOR CO||F||13.95||-0.59|
|HONDA MOTOR CO||HMC||21.07||-0.27|
|SIRIUS SAT RADI||SIRI||2.79||+0.09|
|UNIT AUTO GRP||UAG||28.35||+0.01|
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