Daily Edition: Feb. 23, 2006

February 22, 2006

Honda Prepping Hybrid Fit?

The next Honda hybrid to join the company's lineup may be a gas-electric version of the new Fit subcompact. A report inJapan's daily newspaper, the Nihon Keizai, suggests that Honda will adapt the Fit to hybrid power, while keeping the price under $12,000 in its home market. At that price the Fit hybrid would cost only about $1700 more than the gas-engined version. (Though U.S. prices are yet to be released, we expect the base U.S. Fit to come in at $13,500.) The powertrain would be similar to that in the Insight hybrid, with a 1.0-liter gas engine being teamed with a small motor and battery system. The paper says the hybrid version would be marketed around the world starting in April of 2007. Honda now offers the Insight hybrid, as well as the Civic and Accord Hybrids.

2006 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/30/2006)


GM Files to Join Delphi Committee

General Motors has filed a motion to secure a seat on Delphi Corp.'s creditors committee, claiming it is the partsmaker's largest unsecured creditor with a claim of more than $1.3 billion. Currently the UAW has a seat on the committee as well as the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corp. GM contended it needed to have a say in how the supplier was reorganized to ensure its own ability to remain viable. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for March 9 before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert D. Drain for the Southern District of New York. Objections to the appointment must be filed by March 6. -Michael Strong

Delphi Sets Final UAW Deadline by Joseph Szczesny (2/20/2006)
Will there be a strike on March 30?


SAE Hoping Congress Will Get More Attention

The Society of Automotive Engineers is planning a comeback for annual Congress & Exposition, which will be held in early April in Detroit, even as it's being courted by other communities.

The annual SAE meeting has lost its luster in recent years, but for 2006 five different manufacturers - General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, and BMW - are supporting the Congress. Several key suppliers such as Behr and Continental Teves have agreed to participate too, according to SAE's Bob Chalker. "It's been tough the last five or six years since 9/11," he said. 

For 2006, the technical sessions and educational seminars have been reorganized so that participants get a better chance to look at the displays on the Exposition floor inside Cobo Hall. In addition, the SAE has set up a series of private salons so suppliers can show off their ideas and components to customers without having competitors peering over their shoulders - one of the key reasons many suppliers had withdrawn from the SAE event in recent years.

Chalker said this year SAE is expecting more visitors from abroad due to the changing nature of the business, which is more global and international than it was only ten years ago.

Don Whitsitt, vice president with Aisin, a Japanese supplier that has a large presence in North America, said the SAE Congress & Exposition remains an excellent place to pick up on future trends. Visitors might not find it at any one display, he said, but if they look at several displays they get a sense of what's developing.

"The SAE meeting is one of the few venues in the world where we get a look under the skin of an automobile," said Robert Last of FEV, a German auto supplier.

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