Daily Edition: Feb. 17, 2006

February 16, 2006

VW Has Concept A for Geneva

1999 Chevrolet Tracker 4-door

1999 Chevrolet Tracker 4-door

When you think "child of a new era," do you think Britney Spears or Volkswagen? VW wants you to believe that child is its new Concept A, a crossover coming to the Geneva Motor Show as a concept vehicle that could give away some details of the upcoming Marrakesh ute. The Concept A blends sport-ute with sportscar, VW says, from its chrome-framed grille on back. The four-door (the back doors are rear-hinged) has a sleek roofline that ends in a hatchback that's split into tailgate and liftgate sections. A soft top pulls back to open the cabin to the elements, and the Concept A rides on massive 20-inch wheels. Power for the concept comes from a 150-hp version of VW's new Twincharger four; a six-speed manual gearbox puts power through all-wheel drive. The concept could host a turbodiesel engine or the 200-hp FSI turbo four, VW admits. Inside, four bucket seats are surrounded in black patent leather; the console sports a Multi-Media Interface (MMI) like those on some Audi models. Stay tuned for more Geneva previews next week from TCC.

2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI by TCC Team (1/16/2006)
Tight handling, 40 mpg and the world's best economy cabin.


DC Profits $3.4B in 2005

DaimlerChrysler earned $3.4 billion in 2005 with the Chrysler Group accounting for $1.8 billion of the profit, the company announced on Thursday.

The Mercedes Benz Group posted an operating profit of $1 million in the fourth quarter, and finished the year with a $600 million loss, but DaimlerChrysler AG executives insist the group is finally moving in the right direction.

DaimlerChrysler chief executive Dieter Zetsche, who continues to double up as Mercedes' CEO, said the Mercedes group is focused on trimming costs and improving the efficiency of its processes, even as it launches a new effort to improve customer satisfaction and continues to launch new products this year, including the new GL-Class, E-Class, and CL-Class cars and trucks.

DC Profits $3.4 Billion in 2005 (2/16/2006)
Chrysler Group gets nearly $2 billion in credit for the gains.  


End of the Line for Generous Motors?

It used to be conventional wisdom in American business that "Generous Motors" offered the richest benefits around. GM was an enormously rich company back in the 1950s and 1960s, and GM's top management used the company's wealth to attract and retain talent.

Fast-forward 50 years, and the old regime at GM has fallen into disarray. The rich benefits put in place decades ago are now fading into history as the company grapples with the challenges posed by an era of aggressive competition and globalization.

In one of the biggest blows to the old regime, GM chairman Richard Wagoner said GM will follow the lead of corporate giants such as IBM and Verizon, and will change the way pension benefits are calculated for active salaried employees hired before 1993.

Wagoner said GM still is evaluating ways to restructure salaried pension benefits in the U.S. But he left no doubt that big changes are in the works, including a cap on pension benefits for existing employees that would make them significantly less generous.

End of the Line for Generous Motors? (2/16/2006)
A new cap on pensions means the days of big bennies are out.


GM-UAW-Delphi Stuck in Neutral

The three-way talks between General Motors Corp., the United Auto Workers, and the bankrupt Delphi Corp. appear to be stuck in neutral.

Today will be a pivotal day in the talks, though, as a Feb. 17 deadline that Delphi nominally set for filing court motions to have its current labor pact with the UAW set aside passes. The betting is that Delphi will not file the motion as long as the tenor of the talks remains hopeful. Otherwise, Delphi runs the risk of provoking a crisis that could lead to a showdown, union officials have warned.

Claudia Piccinin, Delphi spokeswoman, said that the Feb. 17 date was not a hard-and-fast deadline and the company's preference was to let the negotiations move forward.
Delphi said in December it was withdrawing its previous contract proposals and planned to give negotiations time to work. The earliest the company would consider asking the bankruptcy judge to set aside the Delphi's contracts with the UAW and other unions was Feb. 17.

Robert "Steve" Miller, Delphi's tough-talking chief executive officer, said last month that the bankrupt supplier was prepared to give the three-way negotiations with GM and the UAW time to work.

The loss at Mercedes included charges on earnings totaling $1.3 billion in connection with the restructuring at smart and another $675 million relating to the staff-reduction program at the Mercedes-Benz car group, which was announced at the end of September 2005.

GM-UAW-Delphi Stuck in Neutral (2/16/2006)
Talks lay fallow, but zingers do too.


Spy Shots: 2007 Chrysler Sebring

2007 Chrysler Sebring

2007 Chrysler Sebring

Prototypes of the new 2007 Chrysler Sebring have been spotted lately around the Detroit area. These new photos capture the car not only from the outside, but also on the inside.

The new Sebring sedan will be introduced in late 2006 as a 2007 model, and will be equipped with the new four-cylinder engine that will also be used in the Dodge Caliber and the Jeep Compass. The Sebring will also offer an optional V-6 engine. -Antoine Guilbaud/Hidden Image

Spy Shots: 2007 Chrysler Sebring (2/16/2006)
New views of the mid-size Chrysler coming this fall.


C&A Hires Mary Ann Wright

Bankrupt Collins & Aikman Corp. of Troy, Mich., has picked up some new management talent, signing Mary Ann Wright as executive vice president of commercial and program management. Wright formerly was director of sustainable mobility technologies and hybrid vehicle programs at the Ford Motor Co. In her new position, Wright will be responsible for organizing, planning, and implementing the overall marketing, sales, business development, and program management activities for Collins & Aikman. "Mary Ann is a respected, proven, and recognized industry leader," Collins & Aikman CEO Frank Macher said. "She brings a thorough understanding of our customers' needs in terms of product development processes, and program management. She is a valuable addition to our senior management team," Macher said. -Joe Szczesny


FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


To push the limits of engineering, daring Californian Ed Shadle plans to become the fastest man on the ground to date. Shadle's mission, along with partner and co-owner Keith Zanghi, is to shatter the world's land speed record with North American Eagle (NAE) - a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter/land vehicle conversion presently undergoing the test runs for setting a new land speed record in excess of 800 mph.


Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 4.87 -0.01 (-0.20%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 51.83 -0.53 (-1.01%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 21.53 -0.04 (-0.19%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 16.24 +0.24 (+1.50%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 16.56 -0.19 (-1.13%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 5.22 0.00 (0.00%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 55.75 -0.08 (-0.14%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 104.40 +0.50 (+0.48%)
Dana Corporation DCN 4.09 +0.10 (+2.51%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 57.68 -2.12 (-3.55%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.51 +0.03 (+1.21%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 69.02 +0.45 (+0.66%)
Ford Motor Company F 8.39 +0.01 (+0.12%)
General Motors Corporation GM 22.28 +0.30 (+1.36%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 16.98 +0.11 (+0.65%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 14.51 -0.93 (-6.02%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 29.16 +0.13 (+0.45%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 67.50 -0.65 (-0.95%)
Lear Corporation LEA 22.34 -0.48 (-2.10%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 72.19 -0.39 (-0.54%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 22.15 -0.24 (-1.07%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 23.10 -0.18 (-0.77%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 24.48 +0.34 (+1.41%)
Siemens AG SI 91.56 +0.76 (+0.84%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 5.65 -0.17 (-2.92%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 107.60 +1.45 (+1.37%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 25.44 -0.28 (-1.09%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.068 +0.004 (+6.25%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 42.98 +0.34 (+0.80%)
Visteon Corporation VC 4.92 +0.11 (+2.29%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 23.98 -1.27 (-5.03%)
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