TCC's Ian Norris Dies
TheCarConnection is saddened to note the passing of our European colleague and friend, Ian Norris. Norris had traveled to Geneva to cover the motor show from his home in Le Mans and died at the train station in the Swiss city.
The news of Ian’s death swept quickly through the Geneva show and among his colleagues. Steve Cropley, editor of Autocar, said Norris was “genuinely unique” and “deserved his place in the (French) sun,” alluding to Norris’ move to Le Mans late in life. “He had gotten his world in order…and had the courage to set himself up in a place as emotive and automotive as Le Mans.”
Norris had recently celebrated forty-five years covering the car industry. Back in 1958 he joined Austin as an apprentice, and at the end of his training went into the company’s PR department. It was during the great days of the Mini, and London was swinging. Norris moved from Austin to Dunlop, then to Lucas before becoming a journalist in 1978.
He reported for UPI and Cycle Weekly in the U.S. during that time, briefly returning to PR with Jaguar and resuming his writing career in 1990, taking on TheCarConnection in 1998.
GM Streamlining for Profit
General Motors arguably "hasn't
been the world's largest car company in 10 to 15 years," suggested the
automaker's "car czar," Bob Lutz, during a Tuesday night dinner. "We were a
conglomerate of four to five regional companies with relatively little to do
with each other. No wonder Honda and
A number of steps are underway to improve the odds of a comeback, he added, starting with the switch to a global product development system this year. Among the goals, GM expects to halve the number of global architectures it now relies on for its varied vehicles. That could have saved $200 million just by having products like the Opel Signum and Malibu Maxx share more of their underlying components, said Lutz. The critical thing is to make sure that there is no badge engineering, he emphasized. The new GM system will reduce the number of prototypes it needs by 40 percent, said Lutz, saving up to $200,000 for each of the advanced vehicles. And GM expects the new development system to help it shave 20 percent in materials costs through the better use of economies of scale. Overall, GM is gunning for a 25-percent reduction in engineering costs and overall product development expenditures.
Under new global system, specific
types of vehicles will be assigned to various regional development centers, no
matter where the products will ultimately be marketed. Saturns, for example,
will largely be developed in
2006 Geneva Motor Show, Part I by TCC Team (2/28/2006)
DaimlerChrysler shows Brabus Smart, AMGs, and Hornet.
Honda Backing Away from Hybrids?
Recent reports have suggested that
Honda is having second thoughts about hybrid powertrains. It's fair to say that
CEO Takeo Fukui isn't rushing to fill the automaker's lineup with the
high-mileage technology - at least not yet. While he told TheCarConnection.com
hybrids have great potential, he stressed that it will be hard to push the
technology into the mainstream "unless (production) costs come down." The
outspoken executive said that while they represent an ecologically-friendly
alternative, "there has to also exist a good business equation," and that is
hard to justify right now,
2006 Geneva Motor Show, Part
II by TCC Team (2/28/2006)
Land Rover Land_e, Rolls coupe concept, and BMW's Z4 M Coupe.
Lexus Gaining Traction in
While Honda officials may be
questioning the role of hybrids, Lexus, the luxury arm of
2006 Geneva Motor Show, Part
III by TCC Team (2/28/2006)
Lexus gaining traction, Lambo LP 640, and Opel GT.
Stern, Sirius Sued by CBS
Satellite radio’s battles over talent heated up this week as CBS Radio announced that it has filed suit against Howard Stern, his company One Twelve, Inc., his agent Don Buchwald, his agent’s firm Don Buchwald & Associates, Inc., and Sirius Satellite Radio, Inc. CBS says it wants compensatory and punitive damages to cover Stern’s multiple breaches of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and misappropriation of CBS Radio’s broadcast time. It further seeks damages from Sirius Satellite Radio, Inc. for unfair competition and tortious interference with Stern’s CBS contract. CBS’ complaint argues that Stern improperly used his old morning show on the CBS network to tout the fact he was planning to defect to Sirius. What apparently really incensed CBS is that Sirius actually paid Stern a bonus in the form of 34 million shares of stock valued at approximately $220 million, according to the complaint, after Sirius exceeded certain subscription targets set initially when they signed Stern. “All of Stern’s actions for which he received this expedited compensation occurred during the time that Stern was under exclusive contract with CBS Radio, when the Sirius payment terms to Stern were kept secret,” the complaint said. Didn’t CBS brass notice that Stern was promoting his move to Sirius during his old morning show? —Joe Szczesny
Chinese Eye Tritec
The Tritec engine factory, in the State of Paraná, has attracted the interest of the Chinese, according to the New York Times. Lifan, a Tritec client, wants to purchase the plant — and move the factory to Chongqing, in China. DaimlerChrysler and BMW, present owners of the company, deny the story; Bernd Gottschalk, president of the VDA, a German auto industry ruling body, adds that they would be cautious in selling advanced technology to the Chinese. Tritec supplies all the engines for the MINI, which accounted for 85 percent of the Brazilian plant’s production in 2005. However, BMW has chosen to develop another engine for the next MINI with Peugeot; that vehicle is scheduled to debut in 2007. The switch is forcing Tritec to look for other customers, or to be shut down or sold. A $500 million BMW-Chrysler joint venture, Tritec was founded in 1999. Capacity today is for 400,000 engines a year. —Fernando Calmon
The common market of South America, Mercosul in Portuguese, has had its biggest momentum from the automotive industry, the sector that has accelerated regional integration. But now, the integration is coming to a halt thanks to a decision by the government of Argentina, where some automakers such as GM and especially Ford have made their biggest production bets. Beginning January 1st, an entirely free market, with no quotas or other restrictions, was to have been enjoined — but the Argentines said no. The impasse, which will not be broken before June, will as a result slow negotiations within the auto industry, both with the European Union and the U.S. via the nascent AFTA (Americas Free Trade Area) Treaty. —Fernando Calmon
FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases
The 2007 Lexus GS450h, the world’s first luxury performance hybrid sedan, goes on sale in early May with a base Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $54,900. Beyond its advanced gas/electric hybrid powertrain and Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) stability control system, the base price includes a wide array of premium standard features typically offered as popular options on the GS300 and GS430.
|American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc.||AXL||16.22|
|Ballard Power Systems Inc.||BLDP||6.10|
|DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR)||DCX||55.47|
|Dura Automotive Systems||DRRA||2.29|
|Ford Motor Company||F||7.97|
|General Motors Corporation||GM||20.31|
|Goodyear Tire & Rubber||GT||14.33|
|Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR)||HMC||29.38|
|Johnson Controls Inc.||JCI||71.27|
|Magna International Inc.||MGA||74.42|
|Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR)||NSANY||23.01|
|Sonic Automotive Inc.||SAH||26.49|
|Sirius Satellite Radio||SIRI||5.11|
|Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR)||TM||106.87|
|TRW Automotive Holdings||TRW||25.60|
|Tower Automotive Inc.||TWRAQ.PK||0.069|
|United Auto Group Inc.||UAG||43.24|
|XM Satellite Radio Hold.||XMSR||22.09|