Daily Edition: Jun. 21, 2004

June 21, 2004

L.A. auto show to shift seasons

In the long-running battle between Detroit and Los Angeles, the folks out West have finally blinked. Bowing to industry pressure, the Los Angeles Auto Show is shifting to November, and will no longer go head-to-head with the bigger North American International Automobile Show, in Detroit. "The change in date is to better serve the industry," the L.A. show's general manager, Andy Fuzesi, told TheCarConnection.com. But it likely also will save the event's status as one of the big four U.S. auto shows.

The West Coast's premier auto event traditionally was scheduled to open just before Detroit's NAIAS. But that meant Los Angeles press days landed either between the Christmas/New Year's holidays, or immediately afterwards. In recent years, frustrated industry officials began cutting back on the number of product previews scheduled for L.A., which in turn led to a sharp reduction in the number of reporters who covered the show. That only benefited Detroit which, in January 2004, scored more than 70 previews and a record number of automotive journalists.

Asked why it took so long to make the switch, Fuzesi blamed local politics. The auto show was traditionally low on the totem pole for city officials, who favored events that generated more business for Los Angeles hotels. Once authorities realized the need to shift the show, Fuzesi said a suitable date had to be found that didn't conflict with yet another big motoring event, such as the Frankfurt, Tokyo, Chicago, or New York auto shows. At the same time, L.A. planners wanted to head off efforts by other, smaller U.S. auto shows hoping to topple Los Angeles as the premier West Coast event. The L.A. auto show will still be held in its old January slot for the next two years, what would have been the 2007 auto show has been moved up to November 29 through December 10, 2006.

That's not soon enough for some industry planners, who suggest that Los Angeles will continue to get a reduced list of previews until the date change. Nonetheless, most automotive insiders were quick to praise L.A. for making the move, which creates a showcase for products early in the new model-year. "We are delighted for the move of the Los Angeles Auto Show," said General Motors' PR chief, Tom Kowaleski. "All of us have long thought the more space between Los Angeles and Detroit, the better it is for all of the manufacturers involved and all of the public that attend both shows. The time span will afford everyone with opportunity to have a wider variety of vehicles at both shows." –TCC Team

Beijing Motor Show Index by TCC Team (6/21/2004)
Big news from the world's fastest-growing auto market.

Lear Daily Edition

Benz releases first A-Class shots

In 1998, the first generation of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class did not have an easy debut, after it failed the so-called 'moose test' in Scandinavia. Mercedes quickly fitted an Electronic Stability Program and, as far as we know, the problem never arose again.

The second generation of the A-Class has been unveiled, and it will undoubtedly have a better time of things, as it will be delivered with standard ESP. The new model has a 5.5-inch longer wheelbase (at 101 inches) and is 9 inches longer (at 151 inches) than its predecessor. The new A-Class has a broader stance, growing nearly 2 inches in width (to 69 inches), and though it is practically about the same height (62.5 inches), it looks better balanced.

In Europe, the A-Class will be available with six engines that according to Mercedes, deliver 38 percent more power and 46 percent more torque, whereas fuel consumption is down ten percent. The versions are: the A150 with 95 DIN hp, the A170 with 115 hp, the A200 with 136 hp and the three CDI versions: the A160 CDI, A180 CDI and A200 CDI with 82 hp, 109 hp, and 140 hp respectively. The A200 Turbo with a new turbo engine with 193 hp will be available in a later stage.

The A-Class will sport standard air conditioning and head and thorax airbags. Mercedes has patented some 200 items on safety and comfort.

The marketing campaign will be titled 'Follow your own star' with which Mercedes wants to draw attention from younger clients. For use in the campaign, pop star Christina Aguilera has recorded a new song, Hello.

In Europe, the new car will be available in September. It is not know yet when the new A-Class will be introduced on the North American market. –Henny Hemmes

Spy Shots: '06 Mercedes M-Class (6/21/2004)
Naked for all the world to see - but for Alabama to build.

Spy Shots: '06 Mercedes S-Class (6/21/2004)
Airbags by the dozen - and more.

Ernst & Young Daily Edition STD

Hybrid ToyotaMR2 possible in 2005

Toyota is likely going to add a performance-oriented hybrid in its U.S. stable of vehicles the not-too distant future, a major Department of Energy research official tells TCC.

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