Daily Edition: Feb. 8, 2006

February 8, 2006

GM Announces New Cuts

General Motors Corp. announced a new wave of cost-cutting, aimed at stuffing criticism the company hasn't moved fast enough to meet the challenges that contributed to $8.6 billion loss in 2005. Richard Wagoner, GM's chairman and chief executive officer, said Tuesday GM intended to slash the dividend to common shareholders by 50 percent, cap defined-benefit pensions of existing salaried employees and put GM's white-collar retirees on notice that they will have to cover the cost of future increases in health care. The salaries of GM's top five executives and directors also were cut substantially as part of the reductions. 

"We are now aggressively implementing a solid plan to turn around the North American business and restore overall profitability as quickly as possible," said Wagoner, who in recent months has been trying to quash speculation that GM might be forced to seek bankruptcy protection. Wagoner, however, said he ruled an across the board pay cut for salaried workers, noting that GM's pay levels are already at market levels.  

In November, GM announced it was eliminating 30,000 blue-collar jobs by 2008. -Joe Szczesny

GM Slashes Exec Pay, Dividend by TCC Team (2/7/2006)
Still more "shared pain" could be in the offing, CEO Wagoner suggests.


Toyota Profits Up 34 Percent

With GM cutting dividends and salaries, and Ford just setting out on the Way Forward, Toyota doesn't have much to look back on. The Japanese automaker reported a 34-percent rise in profits for the most recent Japanese fiscal quarter. The quarterly profit of $3.34 billion could be eclipsed in the coming months if auto sales stay stable and the company continues to draw market share from Ford and General Motors. Toyota plans to invest almost $12 billion in new plants before the end of its fiscal year on March 31, too, which could help it toward its goal of boosting U.S. sales by five percent this year.

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.


Toyota Expands Ont. RAV4 Plant

Before it's even open for business - as has become the custom for Toyota - the company is expanding the production capacity of its new assembly plant in Woodstock, Ont. Toyota said on Tuesday that it would expand production at Woodstock to 150,000 units and would boost its investment by about $300 million. In November, Toyota announced construction of the new plant and said it would employ 1300 workers to build 100,000 RAV4s yearly, for an initial investment of $650 million. Total employment and investment numbers are expected to rise to 2000 workers and $950 million. Production begins in 2008.

2006 Toyota RAV4 by Bengt Halvorson (11/29/2005)
Two more seats, two more cylinders, more value all around.


OnStar Adding Turn-By-Turn Navigation

OnStar gets turn-by-turn navigation this year as the GM division tries to boost profits and take on in-car navigation systems. The technology will be unveiled this week at the Chicago auto show. Right now, OnStar subscribers can ask OnStar operators to give them instructions over the network, and can record them in some vehicles through a voice note recorder. With the new system, OnStar advisors will send instructions through the network to the car, which then plays back the audible commands through the stereo system. Some versions of the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS/STS will be the first to offer the technology in the 2006 model year. GM expects one million cars to be capable of the system in the 2007 model year. OnStar hasn't confirmed an annual price for the service.

2006 Chicago Auto Show Preview by TCC Team (2/6/2006)
Tundra, Avalanche, Entourage, Nitro - and more trucks?


Ford Ditches Zephyr In Favor of Letters M, K, Z

2007 Lincoln MKZ

2007 Lincoln MKZ

Mere months after it went on sale, the Lincoln Zephyr is getting a name change to go with the Lincoln alphanumeric makeover now underway. With the new MKX crossover and MKS concept sedan in the pipeline, the Zephyr will take on the initials MKZ for 2007. At the same time, Ford says, the MKZ will get a mild styling update on the front end of the car and inside, where metallic inserts will be available in the place of standard wood finishes. The MKZ gets its power from Ford's new Cyclone 3.5-liter V-6, which is expected to make 250 horsepower. All-wheel drive will be added to the MKZ lineup as an option at the same time.

Flint: Memo to Mark Fields by Jerry Flint (12/12/2005)
Some things you might want to consider before chopping away.


Ford Gives Workers $100k Severance Option

The Ford Way Forward plan may involve big payouts to workers who choose to retire early - as big as $100,000, so long as the workers forgo any future benefits other than pensions. The Detroit News reports that workers at Wixom, St. Louis, and Atlanta Ford plants may be offered the generous severance packages so that Ford can quickly reduce the number of employees it carries on its payrolls. Though the company hopes to shed workers through attrition, the News says Ford may make the cash-out offer as well as ante up some early-retirement packages, in addition to up to $15,000 in tuition for job retraining. Workers at all plants will be offered all of the applicable plans, depending on company service, pending the approval of the United Auto Workers.

Ford's Way Forward: Press Release by TCC Team (1/23/2006)


Hyundai Entourage Bows in Chicago  

2007 Hyundai Entourage

2007 Hyundai Entourage

Hyundai's first minivan for sale in the U.S. arrives at the Chicago auto show today and will be in showrooms later this year as a 2007 model. The Entourage comes with a raft of standard gear and safety equipment, including a powerful 3.8-liter V-6 engine, a five-speed automatic transmission, front and side curtain airbags, and stability control. Along with cruise control, a CD player and three-zone climate control, the Entourage also comes with a base price of $23,795. All Entourages also come with Hyundai's flip-fold Hideaway third-row seats, which can be folded flat into the rear cargo area to create more storage. Hyundai expects it will earn the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) top five-star crash test rating for front and side impacts with the Entourage.

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part III by TCC Team (1/9/2006)
Hyundai HCD-9 Talus, Santa Fe, and the death of the five-day car.


FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


Spring comes early to Chicago as Lexus plants an eighty-foot-tall blossom on the city's Magnificent Mile. The mechanical flower is part of the public launch of the all-new, fifth-generation Lexus ES 350 luxury sedan, which debuts at this year's Chicago Auto Show on February 8th, will be on display from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Tuesday, February 7th. Located on the corner of

Michigan Avenue
and Superior, the bloom's face spans 25 feet and its petals are enhanced by multicolored lights that open and close as its street-side audience is asked the question: Can you engineer desire? Coinciding with the display, individual paper blooms will be distributed throughout the city, unfolding to ask the same question. Both the giant and the palm-sized flowers lead spectators to the ES 350's pre-launch Web site, http://www.2007ES.com, where they can further explore the vehicle's attributes and design as well as link to the core Lexus Web site.



Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 4.84 -0.10 (-2.07%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 48.49 +0.08 (+0.17%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 22.17 -0.18 (-0.81%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 16.50 -0.30 (-1.79%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 17.08 -0.30 (-1.73%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 5.16 -0.28 (-5.15%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 55.36 +0.06 (+0.11%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 99.46 -2.55 (-2.50%)
Dana Corporation DCN 4.26 +0.02 (+0.47%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 56.69 -0.58 (-1.01%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.37 -0.12 (-4.82%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 66.49 -0.15 (-0.23%)
Ford Motor Company F 8.09 -0.02 (-0.25%)
General Motors Corporation GM 22.81 -0.53 (-2.27%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 16.99 -0.31 (-1.79%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 15.00 -0.27 (-1.77%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 28.87 -0.07 (-0.24%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 67.24 -0.75 (-1.10%)
Lear Corporation LEA 23.98 -0.67 (-2.72%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 71.98 -0.54 (-0.74%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 21.00 +0.47 (+2.29%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 22.10 +0.29 (+1.33%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 23.83 -0.01 (-0.04%)
Siemens AG SI 89.01 -0.24 (-0.27%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 5.76 +0.27 (+4.92%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 104.29 +1.38 (+1.34%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 25.93 +0.33 (+1.29%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.075 -0.005 (-6.25%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 39.12 -0.28 (-0.71%)
Visteon Corporation VC 4.45 -0.19 (-4.09%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 23.68 +0.13 (+0.55%)
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