Daily Edition: Mar. 17, 2006

March 16, 2006

GM Revises 2005 Losses Up to $10B

General Motors says that it's revising its 2005 accounting to reflect even deeper losses in its automotive businesses. The changes will mean that GM lost $2 billion more in 2005 than previously reported, for a total of $10.6 billion. GM says restructuring costs from upcoming plant closings and the reorganization of Delphi Corp., one of its chief suppliers, are at the root of the restatement, which will cause GM to delay some financial reports. GM had previously stated losses of $8.6 billion for last year.

Suzuki Plots Future Without GM by Joseph Szczesny (3/13/2006)
Tiny automaker plans on big expansion abroad.


Gas Prices Go Up 

Gas prices are on the rise again, with current pump prices at the highest levels since last November 9, according to several reports. The current nationwide average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline now stands at $2.393 per gallon, more than six cents higher than last month and more than 33 cents higher than a year ago.

"Gasoline prices have begun their seasonal move higher," says Kris Lathan, AAA Chicago's director of public affairs. "Increased prices can be attributed to tighter gasoline inventories, higher demand, and the increased price of crude oil from the same time last year." Also hanging over the head of gasoline retailers and motorists is the uncertainty created by instability in the Persian Gulf andNigeria, which has prompted a buildup of inventories. The increase in inventories     could hold the seeds of good news for motorists later this summer if the tension in the Mideast abates and prices for crude fall. For now, however, pump prices are expected to move higher over the next several weeks. -Joe Szczesny

Delphi Deal Dimming

A deal that could end strike talk at the bankrupt Delphi Corp. is growing less and less likely, according to officials from the United Auto Workers. UAW officials described the three-way negotiations between the union, Delphi and GM as progressing, but said there was still a lot of work to do before the involved parties can bring the negotiations to some kind of conclusion. There are still significant issues to be resolved, according to UAW president Ron Gettelfinger, who waived aside the importance of the March 30 deadline imposed by Delphi chairman Robert 'Steve' Miller. Miller has said if there is no agreement by March 30, Delphi will have no choice but to ask the judge overseeing the bankruptcy case to set aside the company's existing contracts with six different labor unions, including the UAW. The unions have warned they would strike if the court voids their contracts. But a Delphi spokeswoman said that even if Delphi did file a petition asking the court to void the labor contracts, there was still ample time to reach some kind of negotiated settlement with the unions. However, once the dispute reaches court, the timetable for reaching some kind of negotiated settlement would move from early spring to mid-summer and expose Delphi to wider financial losses. -Joe Szczesny

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


SUVs Do Well in NHTSA Crash Tests

The latest round of crash tests at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) put seven SUVs at the top of government ratings for safety. The NHTSA reported on Thursday that the seven utes - the 2006 Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Tucson, Mercedes Benz ML-Class, Nissan Murano, and Subaru B9 Tribeca - all received five-star rankings for front and side-impact crash tests. Also scoring five stars on both front and side-impact tests were the 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac four-door pickup and the four-door Toyota Tacoma pickup. The NHTSA tested 44 vehicles in its latest round of tests, the results of which can be searched at the agency's Web site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

Recall, Rollover, and Safety Info by TCC Team (3/13/2006)
Search the government's databases for safety info on your car.


Acura, at 20, Enjoys Record U.S. Sales

The Acura luxury brand is maintaining a steady growth rate of three to five percent a year in the U.S., even though it does not offer a hybrid model as does its sister Honda brand, says American Honda senior vice president John Mendel. As the first Japanese luxury brand, introduced in the U.S. nearly 20 years ago with only the Legend and Integra to sell, Acura has climbed the U.S. sales ladder steadily to a record 209,610 new-vehicle sales last year, Mendel told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit Thursday.

Mendel said Honda executives approached the proposal for a luxury brand cautiously in the mid-1980s, as did Toyota and Nissan. "Entry premium vehicles accounted for only 17 percent of the market in 1985 and now take up nearly half of all premium vehicles sold," Mendel pointed out. 

A technology pioneer since its inception, Acura will unveil its first turbocharged engine in the new RDX SUV, which will "go on the market soon, going head to head against the BMW X3 SUV," Mendel says. A concept presaging the next MDX will be unveiled at the New York auto show in April, in its first full model change.

Mendel also announced that ground will be broken later this month in California for an exclusive Acura design studio. The West Coast studio will be integrated with Acura's vehicle development center in Ohio.  Acura has no plans to add U.S. dealerships in conjunction with its volume growth, said Mendel. It has 264 dealers now. -Mac Gordon


MG Rover Auctions Its Past

The vultures are circling, picking over the bones of what used to be Britain's last volume car manufacturer. MG Rover went to the wall last summer, and now all that remains - from the valuable to the trivial - is being split up.

The Heritage Motor Centre, one of the U.K.'s most prestigious auto museums and based in Warwickshire, has revealed it's done a deal with Nanjing Automobile, the new owner of MG Rover's Longbridge plant in Birmingham. The move will safeguard historically important artifacts, documents, and photographs. HMC already owns a wide range of archive material - including the last production car, a Rover 75 - which tells the story of the Longbridge site from its beginnings in 1905. The newly rescued items will complete the historic record and form part of a special display later this year.

Meanwhile, there's to be an auction of everything that belonged to MG Sport and Racing, the company's motorsport divisions. Taking place on March 25, there's more than 900 lots of cars, accessories, and workshop equipment. The sale includes race-prepared vehicles, support vans, and even an MGF concept car that's only ever been seen before at motor shows. There's also merchandise including clothing, mugs, keyrings, watches, slot-racing, and die cast model cars - even limited-edition bone china tea sets. Visit www.wyleshardy.com for details of the event. -Richard Yarrow


FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


Ford Motor Company today announced further changes in its corporate officer structure that will allow the Company to continue streamlining its operations, while more fully aligning its quality processes and disciplines with its core manufacturing and engineering functions. Bennie Fowler, Ford Motor Company vice president, Advanced Manufacturing Engineering, The Americas, is appointed vice president, Global Quality and Advanced Manufacturing Engineering, The Americas, effective April 1. He will continue to report to Dave Szczupak, Ford's group vice president, Manufacturing, The Americas, and in leading Global Quality, he will report to Jim Padilla, Ford Motor Company president and chief operating officer.


Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 4.13 +0.08 (+1.98%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 55.81 +1.06 (+1.94%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 21.88 +0.03 (+0.14%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 15.18 -0.14 (-0.91%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 16.31 +0.60 (+3.82%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 6.20 -0.02 (-0.32%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 57.79 +0.77 (+1.35%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 108.06 -0.11 (-0.10%)
Dana Corporation DCN 0.66 0.00 (0.00%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 58.01 +0.15 (+0.26%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.2499 +0.1499 (+7.14%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 71.75 -0.01 (-0.01%)
Ford Motor Company F 7.93 +0.08 (+1.02%)
General Motors Corporation GM 22.22 +0.72 (+3.35%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 16.83 -0.07 (-0.41%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 13.65 +0.38 (+2.86%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 30.37 -0.29 (-0.95%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 75.54 +0.97 (+1.30%)
Lear Corporation LEA 16.70 +0.47 (+2.90%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 76.66 +1.34 (+1.78%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 22.16 +0.22 (+1.00%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 23.16 -0.20 (-0.86%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 27.84 +0.17 (+0.61%)
Siemens AG SI 93.08 +0.53 (+0.57%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 4.51 +0.03 (+0.67%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 107.93 -0.46 (-0.42%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 25.17 +0.21 (+0.84%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.062 +0.004 (+6.90%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 44.60 -0.08 (-0.18%)
Visteon Corporation VC 4.57 +0.04 (+0.88%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 20.17 -0.38 (-1.85%)
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