Daily Edition: Jul. 27, 2004

July 26, 2004


The continuously variable transmission installed in some Saturn models and an Opel model inEurope, will be discontinued after a short, recall-flagged history. The transmission first became available in the 2002 Saturn ION Coupe and VUE SUV, as well as a version of the Opel Astra. GM recalled many of the vehicles with the transmission after complaints of failures and noisy operation, Automotive News reports, and extended the warranty on the gearbox. GM will limit the CVT to the VUE AWD in the 2005 model year, and then will possibly replace it with a new, efficient six-speed automatic it is developing in cooperation with Ford.

CVTs Hit Their Stride by Bengt Halvorson (8/4/2003)
No longer just a tech curiosity, the new generation of shiftless transmissions offers a real alternative to conventional automatics.

Ernst & Young Daily Edition STD

VUE in NHTSA Study

2003 Saturn VUE

2003 Saturn VUE

The VUE could also be the target of a safety recall if an investigation finds that suspension problems are causing the vehicle to roll over. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is studying complaints that the VUE has a flaw in the left-rear suspension that arises in emergency maneuvers; the suspension pieces can fail, as the NHTSA observed when it tested two VUEs on its own. An investigation can turn into a full recall if the NHTSA determines there is an engineering defect.

2004 Saturn VUE Red Line by Paul Wiley Cockerham (6/21/2004)
The civilized slam, with help from Honda.


Chrysler Considering Scion-Alike?

The Detroit News reports that DaimlerChrysler is looking at adding a Scion- or Smart-like brand to the Chrysler Group lineup, spinning it off of the Dodge, and/or Jeep brands. Possibly looking to the Far East for a partner to develop inexpensive vehicles in the sub-$15,000 range, Chrysler may decide by year's end whether to go along with the concept. Chrysler, according to the report, may already have three vehicles under development for the new brand, which could go to Jeep and Dodge if the separate distribution channel does not happen.

Flint: Scion and the Youth Market by Jerry Flint (6/21/2004)
First Genesis, then the exodus.

Meadow Brook Concours

2002 Isuzu Axiom Spy Photo

RAV4 With Airbags Gets Top IIHS Rating

2001 Toyota RAV4

2001 Toyota RAV4

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance-industry-funded research group, says Toyota's 2004 RAV4 gets its "best pick" rating for safety in front and side crash tests. However the rating only applies to RAV4s with side airbags. Without them, the IIHS puts the vehicle's side impact rating at its lowest level. The institute also says the 2005 Subaru Legacy sedan earned a "best pick" in front crash tests but ranks in the second-lowest category despite having side airbags.

Hyundai Moving Into Lexus Territory?

Hyundai has upscale plans for its next generation of cars and trucks, according to a report in Automotive News. The industry weekly says the Korean company would like to set up a luxury brand in the U.S. as early as 2007. The brand would be positioned as Lexus is to Toyota. A Hyundai official tells the paper that the plan is more a matter of "when, not if," and that the new channel could launch in tandem with a new rear-drive luxury sedan planned for the Korean market. A new sedan slotted between a rear-drive Korean sedan and the Hyundai XG350 would be the focus of the brand, but the brand would be launched with more than one vehicle, the report indicates.

Spy Shots: '06 Hyundai Sonata by Brenda Priddy (7/19/2004)
New from Alabama - and not a Honda nor a Benz.

Mitsu to Scrap Montero Sport, Diamante

2004 Mitsubishi Diamante

2004 Mitsubishi Diamante

Two slow-selling models in the Mitsubishi lineup are being deleted at the end of the current model year, Automotive News reports. The Mitsu Diamante sedan and the Montero Sport SUV will be dropped - and the paper adds, the brand could drop its seven-seat Montero SUV in another couple of years. Mitsubishi's dire financial straits mean that replacements for the Sport and Diamante have fallen off the planning radar, leaving the top-line Galant GTS to replace the Diamante in the U.S., and upmarket versions of the Endeavor crossover to step in for the five-passenger Montero Sport. The Montero, the paper reports, could go away if Mitsubishi cannot finance the engineering updates needed to import it to the U.S. in 2007, when new safety and emissions regulations come into play.

Spy Shots: '06 Mitsubishi Eclipse by Brenda Priddy (7/5/2004)
As headquarters struggles, a new two-door takes flight.

China: Three Months of Change

By now, everyone in the global auto industry is familiar with China's spectacular growth sprint, which began in 2002. Sales of passenger cars soared from 750,000 units in 2001 to 1.2 million in 2002 and then nearly doubled to 2.1 million in 2003. As recently as the first quarter of 2004, industry executives joked with the media about capacity issues. "Yes," they panned, "We have capacity problems in China. But the problem is not over-capacity." Put another way, carmakers could not build them fast enough. During a visit earlier this year with Li ShuFu of Geely Automotive, the entrepreneurial CEO even predicted the market would easily add another one million units of volume this year, catapulting sales to more than three million in total. "Just check the numbers at the end of the year," he advised with unabashed confidence. As it turns out, people in the industry are taking Li Shufu's advice, auditing the sales numbers. But today's number counting is not for the purposes of tallying up another year of gravity-defying growth. Instead, some are scratching their heads and others are fretting over the mysterious market turns in the second quarter.

China: Three Months of Change by Michael J. Dunne (7/26/2004)
What a difference three months makes - but has China gone from boom to bust?

WBCSD: Transportation Not "Sustainable"

Some new studies suggest that automakers have to pay more attention to the threat global warming poses to their business model. A new report from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, based in Geneva and supported by a long list of corporate giants including BP, DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Honda, Michelin, Nissan, Renault, Shell, Toyota, and Volkswagen, warned that the global warming issue must be addressed. Tom Gottschalk, GM executive vice president and the giant automaker's top lawyer, served as co-chairman of the sustainable mobility project, which produced the report. The report itself offered participants a chance to ask the kind of "what if" questions that are only rarely addressed by corporate planning departments, the WBCSD noted. The report suggested some modest objectives, such as making sure that conventional pollutants from transport do not constitute a significant health concern anywhere in the world. It also suggests focusing more attention on reducing the number of traffic deaths and curbing "transport-related" noise, which seem unexceptional in a report that took four years to complete. The report, however, also cautions that if current trends continue, that social, economic, and environmental costs could, in effect, overwhelm existing road and transportation networks - and that could be bad for business.

WBCSD: Transportation Not "Sustainable" by Joseph Szczesny (7/26/2004)
Big changes needed to rein in the damage caused by today's transportation, study finds.

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) launches its third year as presenting sponsor of the Heisman Memorial Trophy by giving fans more ways to experience the history, legends and lore of college sports' most prestigious award. This year's fans will not only have the chance to cast a counted vote for their favorite Heisman candidate (otherwise limited to sports media and Heisman Trophy winners) but test their Heisman knowledge against other sports experts and Heisman winners to win a trip to New York City to attend the 70th Annual Heisman Dinner and compete in the Suzuki Heisman Trivia Tournament finals.

Lear Daily Edition

Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 6.48 -0.11 (-1.67%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 40.45 -0.19 (-0.47%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 15.20 -0.22 (-1.43%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 19.63 -0.17 (-0.86%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 33.84 +0.24 (+0.71%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 6.32 +0.20 (+3.28%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 43.08 -0.43 (-0.99%)
Collins & Aikman Corporation CKC 5.03 -0.11 (-2.14%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 67.42 +2.52 (+3.88%)
Dana Corporation DCN 19.02 +0.01 (+0.05%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 43.55 -0.46 (-1.05%)
Delphi Corporation DPH 9.52 -0.01 (-0.10%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 8.63 -0.05 (-0.58%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 62.33 +0.12 (+0.19%)
Ford Motor Company F 14.74 +0.07 (+0.48%)
General Motors Corporation GM 42.66 -0.27 (-0.63%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 34.21 -0.05 (-0.15%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 10.07 -0.07 (-0.69%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 23.05 +0.39 (+1.72%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 56.76 +0.04 (+0.07%)
Lear Corporation LEA 55.58 -0.59 (-1.05%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 80.17 -0.50 (-0.62%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 15.42 +0.14 (+0.92%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 20.91 -0.02 (-0.10%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 18.70 +0.30 (+1.63%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 2.39 -0.01 (-0.42%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 77.74 +0.53 (+0.69%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 19.85 +0.05 (+0.25%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWR 3.39 -0.08 (-2.31%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 26.70 -0.22 (-0.82%)
Visteon Corporation VC 9.80 -0.24 (-2.39%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 23.83 -1.04 (-4.18%)

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