Daily Edition: Apr. 4, 2006

April 3, 2006

GM Slides, Toyota Rises in March Sales

Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz posted record sales in March, while General Motors sales dropped sharply and its market share continued to fall under the pressure from the import brands. While General Motors Corp. reported its sales dropped 14 percent and Ford fell by 5 percent, several brands - including Mitsubishi, Subaru, Suzuki, Audi, Kia, Hyundai, and BMW-all reported sales increases. Chrysler Group sales increased two percent, while Mercedes-Benz sales increased 18 percent as its new lineup seemed to be striking a responsive chord with buyers.

Get more on March's sales numbers



CEO Hopes for No Strike

Robert "Steve" Miller

Robert "Steve" Miller

Delphi Corp. believes it can restructure and reduce the wages of its workers without a nasty strike, says the company's top executive, Robert "Steve" Miller. Miller also said it was too soon to write off the domestic auto industry as a failed enterprise and predicted it will emerge from its troubles a stronger and healthier one just like the U.S. steel industry did earlier in the decade. However, he also stressed that Delphi needs a competitive wages and benefits package from its unions and insisted that he is not asking for anything that the UAW and other unions haven't given other suppliers in the U.S. with whom Delphi now competes, he said. But will the union back down from its strike talk?

What's next in the Delphi Chapter 11 saga?




Soggy Delphi Protest Loses Steam

What had threatened to be a sizable protest during an appearance by Delphi CEO Steve Miller fizzled under a blanket of cold rain and strong winds on Monday. Organizers had hoped to draw at least 100 protesters for the gathering outside Detroit's Masonic Auditorium, where Miller addressed the Detroit Economic Club. Ultimately, there were less than two dozen men and women, drawn from various Delphi and General Motors plants around the Motor City.

John Martinez, a member of the United Auto Workers from GM's Poletown assembly plant, said the weather wasn't going to keep him away.

"We should shut down the entire industry," he said, in order to prevent companies like Delphi from cutting workers' wages and benefits. "We can't support out families with what they propose," he added, in reference to the massive reductions proposed by Delphi.

Inside the auditorium, Miller acknowledged the protesters, saying "I can't blame them for being mad." But referring to the economics of globalization, he insisted, "we have to face reality together."

Marching back and forth along a small strip cordoned off by Detroit police, the protesters tried to make up in volume for their small numbers, banging drums, chanting slogans, and waving placards. One referred to the dollar-a-year salary Miller had accepted from Delphi, proclaiming, "Miller isn't worth a buck." Apparently, joked, the supplier CEO, "that must've been a typo." -TCC Team


Wagoner Optimistic About Delphi

Any kind of strike by workers at the bankrupt Delphi Corp. would pose a serious problem for the giant auto supplier's largest customer, General Motors. But GM CEO Rick Wagoner stressed cautious confidence Delphi and its unions will ultimately avoid a confrontation.

"I don't underestimate the basic challenges the UAW faces," said Wagoner, referring to demands for massive cuts in pay and benefits.

In bankruptcy court, last Friday, Delphi CEO Steve Miller requested that the company's current labor contracts be voided, while also asking permission to close plants and cut thousands of jobs. The UAW has threatened to strike if the request is implemented, and industry analysts warn that a walkout would starve GM of parts, quickly shutting down its U.S. assembly lines. The cost could run into the billions of dollars, with some observers fearing GM itself could plunge into Chapter 11. The automaker had hoped to forestall a confrontation with a proposal to buy out thousands of Delphi workers, while letting others move over to GM plants at current pay rates.

"In this case, it takes three to tango," said Wagoner, noting GM is still negotiating with the union and Delphi. The auto executive said that despite the angry rhetoric, union leaders recognize the goal is a settlement. "They continue to have an interest in a successful GM," Wagoner asserted, "and a big strike isn't in the interest of a successful GM." -TCC Team


GM Sells Stake in GMAC

Declaring the deal a "home run," General Motors Chairman Rick Wagoner announced on Monday that the automaker planned to sell a majority stake in its finance subsidiary, GMAC, to Cerberus Capital Management LP, a private investment firm. Cerberus orchestrated the deal - which still faces a variety of regulatory hurdles - with a consortium of investors including Citigroup Inc. and Aozora Bank Ltd. The troubled automaker, which has been shedding a number of assets in recent months, expects the sales to generate as much as $14 billion in much-needed capital over the next three years, but also acknowledged the deal will cut into the cash generated by the lucrative finance arm.

Will GM's GMAC sale shore up its finances?


World Car of the Year Down to Three

The finalists for the World Car of the Year have been named - and from the field of 27 entries, three vehicles will battle it out for the title. The finalists for the second-annual award include the BMW 3-Series, Mazda MX-5, and the Porsche Cayman S. Forty-six automotive journalists from around the world judged the entire field on its merits and voted by secret ballot. The winner of the award will be announced next week during the New York auto show press days.


Obese Kids Lead to Bigger Car Seats

The increasing girth of American children has led car-seat makers to super-size their products. The Associated Press says that more than 250,000 children between one and six years old are too big for their car seats, a problem that can lead to injury in accidents from poor-fitting seats and improper installation. More than 23 percent of kids from ages two to five are overweight, the AP cites from government data, and more than ten percent of children in the same age range were obese in the 2001-02 time frame. Seatmakers are responding by making seats that are wider and outfitted with stronger materials to withstand the forces generated in an accident by a larger child.


SPECIAL REPORT: 2006 SAE World Congress

Taking Motorsports to the Streets

"Our objective is to use our race cars to showcase the cars we put on the road," said Richard Brekus, BMW's product planning chief. Brekus was part of a panel at this year's SAE World Congress exploring the link between motorsports and production cars. Racing plays a critical role in developing brand identity and marketing, the panelists agreed. But it also offers manufacturers an opportunity to test new technology under harsh conditions before offering it on the retail market.

Read more about SAE's new motorsports technology


Continental Buys Motorola Auto Business

Continental AG said it plans to spend $1 billion in cash to acquire Motorola's automotive electronics division and integrate it into Continental's Automotive Systems Division.

"This strategic move will further strengthen our position as a safety and systems supplier to the automotive industry and will give us a real push forward in automotive electronics," said Continental's Executive Board Chairman Manfred Wennemer on Monday in Frankfurt.

"Motorola's automotive electronics business is a perfect fit with our strategy of providing sophisticated safety systems to our customers. They are a premier telematics supplier and possess profound experience in this field," Wennemer added.

"The integration of Motorola's automotive unit will enhance Continental's ability to offer our customers long-term technology solutions in the areas of telematics, safety electronics, powertrain as well as interior and sensor technologies," said Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, president of Continental's Automotive Systems Division. -Joe Szczesny


FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


Toyota Launches Consolidated R&D and Manufacturing Operations

Kermit the Frog Leads 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' and Delivers Family an Escape Hybrid

Volvo Enlists Tiffany & Co. to Design National Hero Awards Trophies



Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 4.68 -0.14 (-2.90%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 56.13 -0.45 (-0.80%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 21.64 +0.09 (+0.42%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 15.33 +0.42 (+2.82%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 16.89 -0.24 (-1.40%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 6.82 +0.05 (+0.74%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 59.63 -0.41 (-0.68%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 104.80 -0.30 (-0.29%)
Dana Corporation DCN 0.66 0.00 (0.00%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 58.12 +0.71 (+1.24%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.28 -0.12 (-5.00%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 73.77 +0.80 (+1.10%)
Ford Motor Company F 7.77 -0.19 (-2.39%)
General Motors Corporation GM 20.14 -1.13 (-5.31%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 16.61 -0.85 (-4.87%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 14.28 -0.20 (-1.38%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 31.29 +0.33 (+1.07%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 75.78 -0.15 (-0.20%)
Lear Corporation LEA 17.61 -0.12 (-0.68%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 75.75 +0.06 (+0.08%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 23.32 +0.41 (+1.79%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 23.92 +0.14 (+0.59%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 28.01 +0.25 (+0.90%)
Siemens AG SI 94.43 +1.26 (+1.35%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 5.06 -0.01 (-0.20%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 110.35 +1.45 (+1.33%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 23.52 +0.22 (+0.94%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.078 -0.007 (-8.24%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 43.53 +0.53 (+1.23%)
Visteon Corporation VC 4.53 -0.07 (-1.52%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 22.20 -0.07 (-0.31%)
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