Daily Edition: Jan. 23, 2006

January 23, 2006

Ford "Way Ahead" Coming Today

The countdown is reaching its final hours for Ford Motor Co. On Monday morning, the beleaguered automaker unveils its long-awaited "Way Forward" plan.

If you read the papers or scanned the Web this past weekend, you were bombarded by conflicting reports. According to some supposedly well-placed sources, Ford's Wixom Assembly Plant had dodged the bullet. Others insisted theAtlanta line won a reprieve.

No matter which source is ultimately correct, the cuts at the third-largest automaker in the world will be deep and painful. As many as ten major parts and assembly plants will be shuttered, up to 35,000 blue and white-collar jobs cut.

To help sell the plan, expect Way Forward architect and President of the Americas Mark Fields to deliver some unexpected bombshells. He's well aware of the cold shoulder Wall Street gave General Motors' own revival plan last November. 

Fields also realizes even the best laid plan will fail without worker buy-in. He's studied other turnaround efforts, including GM's vast 1984 reorganization, which resulted in two years of corporate paralysis because management underestimated the need to give the workforce a clear sense of what was going on - and why.

"They need to be scared enough to take action," stresses Dan Gorrell, chief auto analyst with Strategic Vision. Yet at the same time, "You've got to get people hopeful." 

To underscore the urgency, expect the cuts to reach the most senior levels of management. As TheCarConnection.com previously reported, marketing chief Steve Lyons is reportedly among a number of officer-level executives who'll be broomed.

Follow the announcements beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET Monday morning, as links to live video and audio webcasts will be available here: http://www.ford.com/about-ford/investor-relations/investment-information

Ford "Way Ahead" Coming Monday (1/22/2006)
The real challenge begins after the cuts are made, analysts say.

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The Camaro That Almost Was

A close look at the Studio X design, the Camaro concept that almost was.

A close look at the Studio X design, the Camaro concept that almost was.

Call it the Camaro that almost was. The pony car that shook up this year's North American International Auto Show was really the result of a top-secret shoot-out between some of General Motors' top designers.

Even before GM pulled the plug on the last production Camaro, the automaker has been struggling with ways to bring back the once-popular muscle car. An ill-conceived concept car nearly made it onto the auto show circuit in early 2005, but was abandoned on orders from CEO Rick Wagoner.

Ford was already committed to the retro path, with a Mustang unabashedly repeating the theme of the much-loved 1967 model. So Wagoner ordered his design team to come up with something that picked up the visual cues of past Camaros without being slavishly retro.

GM's Advanced Design studio didn't get back to work on the Camaro concept until spring 2005, but "within about three weeks, maybe four," recalled GM design director Ed Welburn, they already had something striking in mind. Sketches were transferred to clay, and soon, a life-size model was ready for review.

"When I walked out onto the patio and saw it, it was obvious it was a Camaro," Welburn, himself a Camaro collector, told TheCarConnection. But he still wasn't satisfied. "I liked it, but I wanted them to push it farther."

The Camaro That Almost Was (1/22/2006)
How GM's hot concept pony car got that way.

Power: Sales Slump Continues in January

J.D. Power and Associates says that January auto sales are still in their winter funk. Power reports that, by its estimates, total vehicle sales are off eleven percent halfway through the month of January. Leading the charge lower are General Motors and Ford, where Power estimates that sales are off by 28 and 25 percent, respectively, with DaimlerChrysler following at a 13-percent sales drop. On the up side, Hyundai sales have risen 19 percent in January and Toyota , nine percent. "The trends haven't changed very much-the domestics continue to slip while the Asians gain ground," said Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis at PIN. Reduced incentives are cited as a reason for slower sales at the domestic brands.

Industry Report: Jan. 23, 2006 by TCC Team (1/22/2006)
NHTSA has new nominee, Chrysler Group says Jan. sales soft.

Jeep's Bell Moves to Product Strategy

Chrysler Group announced last week that Jeff Bell will be moving from Chrysler/Jeep to become the group's new VP of product strategy. Bell, 44, had been the vice president of marketing for the Chrysler and Jeep brands worldwide. He will report directly to Chrysler COO Eric Ridenour. The move is the second in the past week to affect Chrysler's  marketing team, with the departure of Julie Roehm last week for Wal-Mart. Chrysler also said that Gordon Heidacker would become its director of strategic products, reporting to Bell, and that Stephen Bartoli will be its vice president of global product planning and marketing.

2006 Jeep Liberty Limited Diesel by TCC Team (1/16/2006)
In it for the long haul.


POLL RESULTS: Detroit 's Next Top Model Is...?

2002 Ford Explorer

2002 Ford Explorer

Chevrolet Camaro 34%

Dodge Challenger 33%

Ford Reflex 6%

Buick Enclave 6%

Aston Rapide 6%

Chrysler Imperial 4%

Mazda Kabura 3%

Hyundai Talus 2%

Audi Roadjet 2%

Nissan URGE 2%

Get more poll results


FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


Baja California Governor Eugenio Elorduy joined state and local leaders and Toyota executives today to announce an expansion for Toyota Motor Manufacturing de Baja California (TMMBC).  The plant will increase production capacity of Tacoma pick-up trucks by 20,000 units, for a total annual capacity of 50,000 vehicles and 200,000 Tacoma truck beds. The increased capacity will require an additional investment of US $37 million. The expansion is scheduled to be complete in 2007. Toyota is currently studying the amount of additional employment that will be needed to support the expansion.


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Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 5.05 -0.02 (-0.39%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 49.34 -0.71 (-1.42%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 22.22 -0.27 (-1.20%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 13.23 -0.64 (-4.61%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 18.01 -0.78 (-4.15%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 4.75 +0.02 (+0.42%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 55.60 -1.30 (-2.28%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 93.71 -2.04 (-2.13%)
Dana Corporation DCN 4.35
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 51.41 -1.66 (-3.13%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.13 +0.03 (+1.43%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 64.88 -1.22 (-1.85%)
Ford Motor Company F 7.90 -0.32 (-3.89%)
General Motors Corporation GM 20.05 -0.21 (-1.04%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 19.60 -0.67 (-3.31%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 17.63 -0.38 (-2.11%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 27.43 -0.24 (-0.87%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 67.88 -5.67 (-7.71%)
Lear Corporation LEA 24.00 -0.35 (-1.44%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 70.75 +0.04 (+0.06%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 22.49 -1.87 (-7.68%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 21.27 -0.28 (-1.30%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 22.94 -0.55 (-2.34%)
Siemens AG SI 84.23 -1.87 (-2.17%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 6.3001 -0.0499 (-0.79%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 102.56 -1.41 (-1.36%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 24.56 +0.20 (+0.82%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.072 -0.003 (-4.00%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 39.40 -0.55 (-1.38%)
Visteon Corporation VC 4.80 -0.28 (-5.51%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 27.54 -0.70 (-2.48%)
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