Daily Edition: Mar. 21, 2006

March 19, 2006

Honda's Fit Starts Under $14K

The new Honda Fit subcompact will start at a base price of $13,850. The 2006 model goes on sale on April 20 nationwide with a long list of standard safety equipment, including dual side and curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes. The standard powertrain - a 109-hp, 1.5-liter four - comes with either a five-speed manual or automatic transmission. With the automatic, the base price creeps up to $14,650; a Sport model with a hatchback spoiler, for lights, cruise control and a 160-watt audio system, starts from $15,970. Honda promises the most features in its class and 111 cubic feet of interior room, once the rear bench is folded flat.

Car News: GTO Dead, SL Goes to 55 by TCC Team (2/27/2006)
Honda preps hybrid Fit, Street Names Contest Winners and more.

Chrysler Minivans, Durangoin Recall

A new recall issued by the Chrysler Group seeks to repair faulty wiper motors in 268,800 vehicles. The models include the 2005-06 Dodge Durango, Caravan, and Grand Caravan, and the Chrysler Town & Country. The vehicles included in the recall have wiper motor armature shafts that could break, leading to a loss of wiper coverage and reduced visibility. No accidents or injuries have been reports.

Flint: Does Detroit Hate America? by Jerry Flint (3/20/2006)
Why don't GM and Ford like American cars?

Power: New-Vehicle Sales Slide 13 Percent So Far

J.D. Power and Associates' mid-month report on new-vehicle sales finds the industry numbers slipping in early March. The Power Information Network (PIN), which assembles sales data, says sales have dropped 13 percent in the first 12 days of the month, not including fleet sales. The PIN notes that GM's market share sat at 21.3 percent during its survey period, down from 23 percent in the year prior; Toyota held 16.8 percent, up from 16 percent; Ford fell from 17.6 percent to 16.3 percent; and Honda rose from 10 percent to 11.6 percent. Power reports that all three light truck segments - SUVs, pickups, and vans - saw double-digit sales declines and lost market share in the first half of March.


Opinion: Girls Play With Dolls?

Chevrolet and its advertising agency have pushed the wrong button in their time machine, and they've ended up back in the Fifties.

Chevrolet's brochure "Men, Women and the Truck," has a message:  "Girls Play with Dolls, Boys Play with Trucks." Talk about being dated!

Wait! It goes on: "Men are born with the horsepower gene. Just as some women are born with the shoe gene."

Ad agency Campbell-Ewald's answer: So what's the problem?

"What we were striving to do with this piece was to appeal to men. Ninety-one percent of our buyers are men," says Andrea Wells at Campbell-Ewald. "We asked what could we do that would be engaging. We wanted to poke fun at the stereotypes that are out there and we felt it was an engaging and charming way to draw people in."

Campbell-Ewald says the brochure tested positive with its focus groups. Positive for what, we wonder? Alienating women?

"We don't think we've put women back in the dark ages," says Wells. "We embrace the diversity of all people who buy Chevrolets. We are very progressive in the breadth of communications that we do." Conversations with other senior advertising women at General Motors did not produce the same enthusiasm. "This is bad," said one top female advertising executive.

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