DAILY EDITION: Mar. 1, 2004 Page 2

March 1, 2004

American Axle Strike Is Over (2/29/2004)
Wage cuts in the new contract.


New Detroit Show Hall Enters Planning Stage

Preliminary planning that could lead to construction of a new Detroit auto show exposition hall is under way, says show co-chairman Bill Cook. “Government authorities and the leadership of the (sponsor) Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) agree we critically need a larger convention center and more space for the North American International Auto Show,” Cook said, prior to an appearance on the weekly Autoline Detroit TV telecast. “Cobo Hall is nearly 50 years old and NAIAS has outgrown its 700,000 square feet.”

Cook, an import dealer in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills who will co-chair the 2005 NAIAS show next January, said the critical element toward building a new center is financing, which could entail a bond issue substantial enough to underwrite centers with one million or more square feet like those in Frankfurt, Las Vegas, and New Orleans. “If the center was big enough,” Cook added, saying the automakers are clamoring for more space here, “Detroit could draw major conventions as well as NAIAS. But we also need adequate adjacent parking, like Chicago.”

Interviewed on the Autoline show by host John McElroy, Cook said new construction was also on the table for his Mazda store. Mazda North America is offering incentives for an extended period to dealers who build a separate showroom for the brand, up to $400 for each new Mazda vehicle sold. A “pretty good deal,” says Cook, who also has Audi, Nissan, Porsche, and Volkswagen franchises. Cook and DADA vice-president Rod Alberts were planning to attend the Geneva and Paris shows this year in an ongoing effort to improve Detroit’s NAIAS. Autoline panelists appearing with Cook on the show were Mac Gordon, contributor to TCC, and Steve Finlay, editor of Ward’s Dealer Business Magazine. The show aired Sunday on Public Broadcasting WTVS, Detroit, and on the national Speed channel. —Mac Gordon


In a clear demonstration of sympathy to Brazil, GM chairman and CEO Richard Wagoner in person informed both the governor of state of Rio Grande do Sul and the Nations’ president of a new investment. After one year of negotiations, a disbursement of $240 million for the Gravataí, RS plant, the home of the small hatch Chevrolet Celta, has been defined. This industrial unit, the company’s most modern worldwide, will end up with annual capacity increased from current 120,000 to 210,000 units by 2006. Part of investment is aimed for the building a CKD plant, for GM has been betting high in this less risky, exporting strategy lately. Wagoner confirmed that a second model is to be produced in Gravataí, imaginably a sedan version of the Celta... In order to make better use of the ample currency exchange advantage of producing in Brazil, in addition to lower costs, some auto manufacturers are considering the country as an export platform not only to Europe, but to the U.S. as well. In spite of this Volkswagen has decided to take the production of the Golf Generation V to Mexico — a true loss for the country — but Honda is pondering about manufacturing here a subcompact in order to face competition from Korean entries in the American market. The probable platform will be that of the Fit (Jazz in some markets), built at Honda’s Sumaré plant, not far from São Paulo City. The goal is a price under $10,000, or up to 20 percent less than the lowest-priced Civic version... The planned export of the veteran, aluminum-bodied SUV Land Rover Defender to the U.S. might take longer than expected. The company’s engineering center in England must first work to make it comply with US emissions and safety requirements. The vehicle produced in São Bernardo do Campo, SP must undergo several changes, among them the fitting of the airbags not foreseen for the version produced in the country — Fernando Calmon

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