Industry Report: Mar. 27, 2006

March 25, 2006


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.

Nissan Plans New York Debut for New Altima

The New York auto show will be the first public display of the new 2007 Nissan Altima, the company confirmed on Wednesday. A new body style arrives in 2007 on a new "D" platform, promising better body rigidity and a newly penned suspension. Nissan's Xtronic CVT will be standard on all models, while the 3.5-liter V-6 and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines will remain on the roster. On sale in the fall of 2006, the Altima, Nissan says, will be one of the best-performing front-drive sedans on the market.

Scion's tC Release Series 2.0 Coming to N.Y., Too

Scion's latest Release Series 2.0 will show off its goods at the New York show, too - but this time the special edition is based on the brand's two-door tC coupe. On sale in mid-April, the tC 2.0 gets Blue Blitz paint, 17-inch wheels, side and curtain airbags, and a new stainless-steel grille. A Pioneer sound system is outfitted, too, and comes with three months of standard XM service, along with an iPod jack. Scion says only 2600 copies will be built, to be sold for $18,260 each.



Smart Sale Sidelined

2004 Smart city coupe

2004 Smart city coupe

Enlarge Photo
Shareholders are pressing DaimlerChrysler AG's top management about the company's plans for its money-losing small-car unit Smart, and its Maybach superluxury brand. A resolution calling for a full accounting of the company's spending on smart and Maybach could be presented at company's annual shareholders' meeting in Berlin. Meanwhile, the German press is reporting that DaimlerChrysler has terminated its contract with the investment banking firm of Goldman Sachs, which was supposed to screen proposals for smart's assets from outside bidders. Earlier this month, Dieter Zetsche, DaimlerChrysler chief executive officer, said a number of potential bidders had emerged. The Financial Times of London also reported that DaimlerChrysler's plans for selling smart have been put on hold, probably indefinitely. Bodo Uebber, DaimlerChrysler's chief financial officer, said during one appearance this week that as long as smart meets its interim objectives, which include narrowing its losses this year and reaching break-even in 2007, the German automaker will remain committed to restructuring the brand. The restructuring launched last spring has eliminated about 40 percent of smart's employees and delayed indefinitely any plans to bring the smart minicar to the U.S.-Joe Szczesny


Deal for Part of GMAC Done

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