Daily Edition: Apr. 10, 2006

April 10, 2006

Jeep Patriot Charges into New York

2000 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

2000 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

Chrysler's new Patriot opens its charge on the New York auto show this week-but will the Patriot do to Jeep's bottom end what the Commander did to its top? Find out what the Patriot brings to the party this week at the Javits center and stay tuned all week for more news from the Big Apple:

TCC previews the 2007 Jeep Patriot

2006 New York Auto Show Preview 





UAW Delays Strike Vote at Delphi

The United Auto Workers is holding off on scheduling a strike vote among workers employed by Delphi Corp. as it tries to develop a strategy for fighting the rising demands for concessions. And the union's running into complications in its tough-guy strategy, including the retirements of several key negotiators.

What's the next step for the UAW?



Slated for Hybrid

DaimlerChrysler AG's top brass has never been big fans of hybrid vehicles, but the public's generally favorable perception of hybrids has given the green machines an important boost. And that's why the Chrysler Group confirmed last week it plans to offer a hybrid version of the Dodge Durango starting in 2008.

Why do GM and BMW care about the Durango Hybrid?


Will Caddy's BLS Crack the Euro Code?

Europe's luxury car market has long been a closed club - as Cadillac has repeatedly learned during a series of failed efforts to crack the continental code. But now Cadillac is trying again with the new Saab-derived BLS. Whether the BLS will be treated as an intriguing new option or dismissed as little more than a poseur remains to be seen, but there's little doubt that Caddy's dreams of global growth will rise or fall on the little sedan's success.

Will Caddy's BLS crack the Euro code?

TCC drives the 2006 Cadillac BLS



Gas Prices Up Sharply

The cost of gasoline increased sharply across the country last week as seasonal changes and uncertainty over supply drove up pump prices, observers said. The national average for regular self-serve gasoline is $2.60 a gallon, nine cents higher than last week.

In California, the uncertainty about gas supply could push the average price near $3 per gallon by the end of April, the Automobile Club of Southern California's Weekend Gas Watch predicted. The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles area was up to $2.842, which is 9.1 cents higher than the previous week, 32 cents higher than last month, and 35 cents higher than last year, according to the automobile club. In San Diego, the price was $2.831, or 8.9 cents above last week's price, 29 cents above last month and 33 cents above last year.

"We're in the time of year when steep price increases are common, but this year prices are being boosted by speculation about whether there will be sufficient gasoline supplies for later in the year," said Auto Club spokesperson Carol Thorp. "It may be several weeks before a clear picture develops on the nation's gasoline production, but in the meantime, prices could climb to near $3 per gallon."

The same pattern prevailed in Texas, where statewide average price for a gallon of regular self-serve jumped 11 cents in one week to $2.59, according to AAA Texas' Weekend Gas Watch. -Joseph Szczesny


GM Plans Cuts in Lordstown Production

GM officials have confirmed the automaker was preparing to reduce production at its assembly complex in Lordstown, Ohio, this summer. The Lordstown plant now builds the Chevrolet Cobalt, which is selling well, noted GM spokesman Dan Flores. Cobalt sales increased 45 percent in March.

GM, however, wanted to make sure the pace of production was sustainable, Flores said. "We don't really need three shifts but we need more than two shifts," he said.

The solution was to eliminate the third shift and increase the rate of production from 53 to 62 units per hour on the remaining two shifts, he said. Daily production in Lordstown will drop from 1300 units to about 1000 units, Flores said. He also said GM isn't certain yet how many of approximately 1100 employees now assigned to the third shift will idled by the change. Some workers will be added to the first and second shifts to handle the increase in line speed while other employees will accept the buyout being offered blue-collar workers near retirement. -Joe Szczesny



Could Cost GM $10B

A new research report predicted that General Motors' first-quarter earnings could be better than expected but cautioned the automaker's total bill for the restructuring of Delphi could cost $10 billion. Deutsche Bank's Equity Research Group said in a note to investors this week that it was raising its estimate of GM's first-quarter earnings to a loss of 8 cents per share (or about $450 million) from a loss of 22 cents per share (or about $1.2 billion) before adjustments.

"We believe that GM could surprise the Street when they report (first-quarter) earnings, as a result of benefits from GM's new pricing strategy, volume/mix benefits from ramp-up of the GMT-900 SUVs, and an accounting benefit from the Jobs Bank charge.

"We would caution investors from drawing conclusions from the (first-quarter) numbers, as they may include several anomalies," the research note added. "But we are maintaining our 25 cents per share loss estimate for the full year," said.

The Deutsche Bank report also noted that there's a growing risk GM might have to trim production in few months. "Despite the strong production quarter, GM's market share continues to disappoint. GM's sales to retail customers declined nine percent in the quarter, despite the new SUVs. An escalation of gas prices this summer could put GM's new product plan to the test, the report added. -Joseph Szczesny



Chairman of Hyundai Returns to Korea

Chung Mong-koo, the Chairman of Hyundai Motor, returned to South Korea on early Saturday as prosecutors speed up their investigation into the suspicions that the country's leading automaker created slush funds to bribe government officials.

Chung's return from the Los Angeles came after his son Chung Eui-sun, Kia Motors president, was barred from leaving the country.

Chung Mong-koo, 68, left South Korea for the United States on Sunday in a sudden move that many think is aimed at avoiding the investigation.

His sudden departure to the U.S. made prosecutors reportedly angry as they were considering questioning the two Chungs. -Peter Chang



New York Show: Choose One, Please
1725 votes have been cast


Saturn Outlook


Mercedes-Benz E-Class


Infiniti G35


Lexus LS600h


Jeep Wrangler


Jeep Patriot


Suzuki XL7


Nissan Altima


Acura MDX


Chrysler 300 Long Wheelbase


From TCConfidential

The Week in Reverse

2007 Audi TT - front

2007 Audi TT - front

Audi's new TT took to the airwaves this past week, getting a jump on most of the new machines coming to the New York auto show and simultaneously shedding its Art Deco influences. That leaves the Chrysler Building next to our hotel and our editor's wardrobe as the only remaining 1930s influences at TheCarConnection.

Jeep lobs a Patriot missile at the Kia Sportage this week . Stay tuned for the inevitable New York Times piece claiming the company had been planning the launch since the day Dieter Zetsche took office.

It's bedtime at Ford, what with the arrival of the new Sport Trac, minus the familiar Explorer prefix. We're assuming that the 4.5-foot cargo box just didn't have the room for the Explorer tag any more. Either that or that Ford is consciously moving itself away from that nameplate's lead-shoes sales effect.

Dodge's Durango gets a hybrid powertrain mated to its HEMI engine for the 2008 model year. We don't know about you, but the new ad catchphrase, "That thing got a nickel-metal-hydride battery?" doesn't sound like a Clio winner to us.

Mazda's new CX-9 has nothing to do with the CX-7, which it turns out has nothing to do with the Ford Edge, which certainly has nothing to do with the Mazda5, which in turn is no relation to the Ford Escape. Wait, shouldn't all these crossovers have at least one parent in the household at all times?

Cadillac has a shot at Euro credibility with the new BLS. With a turbodiesel engine, compact proportions and a steep pricetag, we're predicting the French will love it in true contrarian fashion.

This week's peak-oil update: some scientists still think the world is running out of oil. For accuracy's sake, we'll just leave the headline running for the next 20 years since it's changed so little in the past 30.

And finally this week, former Sheryl Crow-lovin' cyclist Lance Armstrong will pilot the pace car at the Indy 500. Given his tendency to toss away things of incredible talent and beauty, we'd suggest hanging around after the he pulls back in the pits. (Do your Sir Mix-A-Lot and pull in quick to retrieve 'em.)


FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Named 'Car of the Year' at Spike TV's AutoRox

Lexus Announces Pricing on 2007 ES350 Luxury Sport Sedan


Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 4.63 -0.13 (-2.73%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 54.60 -1.29 (-2.31%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 22.48 +0.39 (+1.77%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 14.69 -0.37 (-2.46%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 16.20 -0.42 (-2.53%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 7.76 +0.53 (+7.33%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 59.98 -0.02 (-0.03%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 105.37 +0.46 (+0.44%)
Dana Corporation DCN 0.66 0.00 (0.00%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 56.95 -1.45 (-2.48%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.35 -0.04 (-1.67%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 73.61 +0.67 (+0.92%)
Ford Motor Company F 7.60 -0.05 (-0.65%)
General Motors Corporation GM 19.51 -0.04 (-0.20%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 16.44 -0.20 (-1.20%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 13.89 -0.19 (-1.35%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 32.86 -0.15 (-0.45%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 77.12 -0.50 (-0.64%)
Lear Corporation LEA 16.37 -0.67 (-3.93%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 74.85 -0.30 (-0.40%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 23.52 -0.25 (-1.05%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 24.02 -0.20 (-0.83%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 27.50 -0.63 (-2.24%)
Siemens AG SI 93.07 -2.10 (-2.21%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 5.31 -0.10 (-1.85%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 114.10 -0.85 (-0.74%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 22.75 -0.85 (-3.60%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.082 +0.002 (+2.50%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 41.38 -0.66 (-1.57%)
Visteon Corporation VC 4.35 -0.25 (-5.43%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 23.30 -0.64 (-2.67%)
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