Daily Edition: Feb. 3, 2006

February 2, 2006

Chicago Show Debuts Include Ralliart

The Chicago Auto Show begins next week for the media and the public. And among the introductions you'll see here next week on TheCarConnection are a handful of trucks, including the critical new Toyota Tundra and the updated Chevrolet Avalanche we showed you last week. Coming too to Chicago are the new Lexus ES330, the Hyundai Entourage minivan and Accent three-door hatch, a pair of Dodge trucks we'll tell you more about early next week, and this Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart, details of which we'll bring you in next week's coverage of the show. The media days begin Feb. 8 - stay tuned for all the Chicago introductions here at TCC.

Spy Shots: '07 Toyota Tundra by Hans Lehmann/Hidden Image (1/30/2006)
The first pictures, ahead of Chicago's launch.

Ford, Chrysler Add Incentives

Though both companies saw their car sales rise in the month of January, both Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group added new incentives to some models in their lineups after releasing sales figures yesterday. Ford, which saw its sales rise about two percent last month, has put $500 more in cash rebates on the Focus sedan, boosting the total incentive on that vehicle for 2006 models to $2500. Chrysler, meanwhile, is offering zero-percent loans on some models for a period of up to five years. Ford's incentives on its fleet averaged $2839 per vehicle last month, while Chrysler's hit $3317 against an industry average of $2391 per vehicle, according to Autodata figures.

Domestics Pose Sales Surprise in Jan. by Joseph Szczesny (2/1/2006)
GM, Ford and Chrysler all up for the month.

Toyota Hits 15 Million Mark

Twenty years and $16 billion later, Toyota says that it has built its 15 millionth vehicle in North America. The company didn't specify at which plant the vehicle was built-because at best it's an estimate, since Toyota operates twelve assembly, powertrain and components plants in North America, with two more assembly plants under construction in Ontario and San Antonio, Texas. Ten Toyota models are built in North America: they include the Toyota Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia, Sienna, Solara, Tacoma, Tundra, and Lexus RX330. The Camry Hybrid and RAV4 will be added to that list in the next two years. Toyota says it will have capacity to build 1.83 million cars and trucks, 1.44 million engines, and 600,000 automatic transmissions in North America by 2008.

2007 Toyota Camry by Bengt Halvorson (1/30/2006)
Ready to spoil a new round of frugal family buyers - and keep its best-selling title.

TCConfidential: The United Nations of Chrysler Design

2005 Dodge Caliber Concept

2005 Dodge Caliber Concept

Enlarge Photo
In many car-design studios around the world, global competition is the order of the day - designers in Barcelona fight it out with those in San Diego and Stuttgart and Tokyo for the right to pen a new car. Not so at Dodge, even though the new Caliber  is a world car with big European ambitions. Greg Howell, senior product designer, says there's little need to go abroad for inspiration: "When you go into the styling studios it's like the U.N. anyway," he says.

Like most auto design departments, Chrysler fields most of its art talent from four schools - the Royal College of Art in the U.K., the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and Art Center College in Pasadena. Other places like Detroit's Wayne State U. are represented, but the change to sophisticated and expensive design software like Alias and CATIA has made the rich schools richer.

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