Daily Edition: Jul. 28, 2004

July 27, 2004

GM Confirms H3 Details, "Alpha" Hummers

The Hummer brand gets a new mid-size SUV based on the Chevrolet Colorado architecture in the 2006 model year, GM confirmed on Tuesday. Though no pictures were released, GM says the new Hummer will appear in the first half of next year and will sport a 3.5-liter five-cylinder engine of undisclosed power, manual or automatic gearboxes, electronically controlled four-wheel drive, traction control and stability control. GM also announced during its annual model-year media preview that Hummer would also get an "Alpha" performance lineup based on current vehicles, beginning with the 2006 H1 Alpha. The H1 Alpha gets a 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine with more power, improved emissions performance, and better fuel economy than today's H1, GM says.

GM Earns $1.3 Billion in Q2 (7/21/2004)
Disappointing news on the market-share front.

Ernst & Young Daily Edition STD

AK Case Casts Harsh Glow on In-Dash DVD

Alaska prosecutors are seeking a second-degree murder conviction for a driver accused of not paying attention and killing occupants of another vehicle - his attention diverted, they say, by an in-dash DVD player. The accident occurred in October of 2002, when Erwin Petterson Jr. crashed into a Jeep carrying Robert and Donna Weiser on the highway connecting Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula. Petterson's pickup truck was equipped with an in-dash DVD player installed to permit its use while the truck was in gear. Most manufacturers wire their DVD players to be visible to the back seats only, or in the case of nav systems, to become inoperable when the car or truck is in gear. Aftermarket systems, though, can be wired to operate at all times. The Associated Press adds that Alaska law doesn't outlaw the DVD player's installation, but that prosecutors are arguing that Petterson showed extreme indifference to life.

Siemens

Camry Sudden-Accel Investigation Closed

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has closed an investigation that studied whether the Toyota Camry and Lexus ES300 accelerated suddenly, out of driver control. While the agency said it will continue to monitor the vehicles in question for more reports, it concluded that no defect in the vehicles caused unintended acceleration. The NHTSA had received reports of 30 crashes that were deemed worthy of investigation. Vehicles from the 2002 and 2003 model years were studied.

Meadow Brook Concours

Spy Shots: '06 Cadillac DeVille

2006 Cadillac DeVille

2006 Cadillac DeVille

Codenamed GMX272, Cadillac is readying the DeVille for a major and very significant freshening - inside and out - for the 2006 model year. The DeVille will remain the only front-wheel-drive Cadillac until the all-new rear-wheel-drive DeVille arrives sometime in 2008. Even under this heavy camouflage, one can see - inside and out - that the 2006 DeVille will borrow styling cues from the Cadillac Sixteen concept car.

Spy Shots: '06 Cadillac DeVille (7/25/2004)
Sticking with the front wheels.

Spy Shots: '06 Jeep Commander

2006 Jeep Commander

2006 Jeep Commander

You've heard it referred to as the Grand Wagoneer, or maybe even by its codename YK. But it's practically official - Jeep's upcoming seven-passenger luxury ute with three rows of seats will be called the Jeep Commander. Powered by a 4.7-liter V-8, or an optional 5.7-liter Hemi, the super-sized Jeep will reach dealerships in time for the 2006 model year. Expect the Commander to be in the $40,000 range.

Spy Shots: '06 Jeep Commander (7/25/2004)
Could it be the new Wagoneer?

Spy Shots: '06 Chevy HHR

2006 Chevrolet HHR

2006 Chevrolet HHR

About a year ago, Chevy first gave the public information and a sketch of the Chevy HHR, a retro-styled station wagon that Chevy says takes its style from a mixture of the 1949 Chevy Suburban and the current Chevy SSR (and not the Chrysler PT Cruiser, so they say.) Over the following months Chevy execs filled in more information, noting that the HHR (which stands for "heritage high roof") will be built on GM's Delta platform, shared with the Saturn ION and 2005 Chevy Cobalt. Price is pegged at about $23,000, and Chevy says they aim to sell 100,000 HHRs a year.

Spy Shots: '06 Chevy HHR (7/25/2004)
The "heritage high roof" becomes more than an homage.

Sonic Earnings Up Despite Vehicle Sales Downturn

New-vehicle unit sales declined but net profits rose for Sonic Automotive in the second quarter, reports the Charlotte, North Carolina-based megadealer. Company executives attributed the upbeat earnings result in the face of a soft market to a shutoff of acquisitions and a focus on expense control as the 150-store network raised its quarterly dividend from 10 cents to 12 cents and maintained its forecast of earnings for calendar 2004 to $2.65-$2.80 per share. Sonic President and COO Jeffrey C. Rachor said net income for the April-June quarter reached $30.0 million, compared to $28.5 million a year ago. Total revenues increased $53.9 million to $1.87 billion in the period, even though new-vehicle retail sales, excluding fleet, declined from 37,015 to 35,655 and used-unit sales from 58,773 to 56,563.

One of the fastest-growing dealer networks until last year, Sonic ordered a cessation of acquisitions for the balance of 2004 after completing purchase of 18 foreign-brand stores in the Houston-based Momentum group July 1. Rachor said the Houston acquisitions bring in about $700 million in additional income a year and Momentum's management team is staying on to help Sonic integrate brands including Audi, BMW, Nissan, and Volkswagen. Rachor said Sonic's top ten brands for new-vehicle revenues in the quarter were Honda, 12 percent; BMW and Toyota, 11.3 percent each; Cadillac, 11.1 percent; Chevrolet, 10.8 percent; Ford, 9.9 percent; Lexus, 5.9 percent; Volvo, 4.0 percent; Chrysler, 3.3 percent and Mercedes, 3.0 percent.

Sonic's gross profit margin on new vehicles rose to an average 7.5 percent in the quarter from 6.7 percent a year ago, reflecting the company's strategy to emphasize profits per vehicle and expense control. CFO Lee Wyatt said sharply increased new-car rebates from the Big Three in July have "stimulated sales that continue pressure on sales of late-model used units." -Mac Gordon

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases

PRNewswire

High gas prices haven't satiated Americans' love of driving, said TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence today, with one out of five saying that they will likely purchase or lease a vehicle within the next six months, according to the inaugural wave of its Consumer Auto Demand Tracker(SM) series of reports. Ford, American mainstay and industry powerhouse, leads the way among brands, followed by Chevrolet. Asia's auto-juggernauts Toyota and Honda are next, while Dodge rounds out the list of Top Five Most Preferred Brands in America.

Lear Daily Edition

Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 6.86 +0.38 (+5.86%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 41.65 +1.20 (+2.97%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 15.62 +0.42 (+2.76%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 20.20 +0.57 (+2.90%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 34.13 +0.29 (+0.86%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 6.54 +0.22 (+3.46%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 43.81 +0.73 (+1.69%)
Collins & Aikman Corporation CKC 5.12 +0.09 (+1.79%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 69.37 +1.95 (+2.89%)
Dana Corporation DCN 19.15 +0.13 (+0.68%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 44.28 +0.73 (+1.68%)
Delphi Corporation DPH 9.57 +0.05 (+0.53%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 8.38 -0.25 (-2.90%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 63.81 +1.48 (+2.37%)
Ford Motor Company F 14.88 +0.14 (+0.95%)
General Motors Corporation GM 43.46 +0.80 (+1.88%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 34.67 +0.46 (+1.34%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 10.36 +0.29 (+2.88%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 23.08 +0.03 (+0.13%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 56.40 -0.36 (-0.63%)
Lear Corporation LEA 55.78 +0.20 (+0.36%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 80.05 -0.12 (-0.15%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 15.48 +0.06 (+0.39%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 21.16 +0.25 (+1.20%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 21.52 +2.82 (+15.08%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 2.51 +0.12 (+5.02%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 78.30 +0.56 (+0.72%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 20.20 +0.35 (+1.76%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWR 3.25 -0.14 (-4.13%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 27.27 +0.57 (+2.13%)
Visteon Corporation VC 9.97 +0.17 (+1.73%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 25.06 +1.23 (+5.16%)

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