Geely bringing it to Detroit, HUMMER wants more models

Geely Plans First Chinese-Car Debut in Detroit

Chinese automaker Geely will unveil the first Chinese car to reach the annual North American International Auto Show next month. The mid-size sedan might have the less-than-inspiring name of 7151 CK, but it's likely to generate some appeal with its price tag of around $10,000, barely half what comparable Japanese, American, and Big Three models go for, and well under even the South Korean competition. Geely intends to start selling both the sedan and a two-seat sports car in Puerto Rico in 2008, with a move to the mainland anticipated within a year. While Geely may be the first Chinese maker to show its wares at a major U.S. auto show, its debut would actually follow the mid-2007 sales launch of another Chinese brand, Chery. Partnering with long-time automotive maverick Malcolm Bricklin's Visionary Vehicles, Chery expects to be selling the first of at least five models now under development, including its own mid-size sedan, a coupe, and a crossover. Still other Chinese makers are looking for outlets in the U.S., and one, the Great Wall Motor Co., is expected to weigh in with its own exhibit at the 2007 Detroit auto show. -TCC Team

2006 Detroit Auto Show Preview (12/4/2005)
More sheetmetal than your average showroom.

HUMMER Considering More Models

2003 HUMMER H3T conceptLook for still more products to expand the lineup at HUMMER, General Motors' off-road brand, said division general manager Susan Docherty. The addition of the smaller H3 model has resulted in a 93-percent increase in sales this year, she noted, despite the run-up in fuel prices and the overall decline in the SUV market. "There is room for this brand to expand beyond the segments we're competing in now," Docherty said. "But we have to be very sure that as we grow into other segments, it needs to be segments in which the proposition of iconic design and unparalleled off-road capabilities resonate." That would rule out sports cars and minivans, HUMMER's general manager emphasized. But, "I could definitely see people who are pickup drivers needing off-road capabilities. But we want to be very careful and plan what that growth will be."

HUMMER has been especially successful tapping into the booming aftermarket, Docherty said following a taping of the Autoline: Detroit TV show. Sales of aftermarket parts and accessories in the U.S. has soared to $31 billion annually, and GM is pushing to gain a larger share, with HUMMER among its success stories. The current H2 buyer is now adding about $1800 in parts provided just by the automaker's SPO unit. On the H3, the average is around $1250, said Docherty. That doesn't include aftermarket parts sold by non-GM vendors.

Q&A: HUMMER's Susan Docherty (12/18/2005)
Defying critics and oil prices, HUMMER sales soar.

Talking and Driving On the Rise

More of you are talking your way across America's roads, according to the nation's highway safety agency. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that the number of drivers talking on cell phones at any given moment now stands at ten percent, up from eight percent in 2004. Six percent of those drivers were holding the phone to their ears, up one percent, ostensibly leaving the rest in hands-free mode. The NHTSA reports that women and young drivers are more likely to be talking on the phone while driving than other age and gender groups. Three states (Conn., N.Y., and N.J.) forbid cell phone use while driving, as does the District of Columbia. The NHTSA conducted the test this past summer and estimates the ages of drivers observed.

Detroit Needs More Than Healthcare Cuts?

General Motors, Ford and even the Chrysler Group need to look beyond cuts in healthcare benefits as they restructure if they plan to regain strength in the automotive industry, says one of the industry's top observers.

Laurie Harbour-Felax, a consultant and analyst who studies the domestic industry extensively, said that domestic carmakers still have a long way to go to catch their top Japanese competitors.

During the first part of the 2005, Nissan made $1,826 per vehicle sold while GM lost $1,227, a gap of $3,300. Even the profitable Chrysler Group made only a fraction of Nissan's per-vehicle profit, at $186 per vehicle, said Harbour-Felax, who was a principal in Harbour & Associates for many year before setting up her own firm this year.

To keep pace with Asian competitors, domestic carmakers must figure out ways to use more common parts and vehicle architectures and limit warranty expenses and recall costs, which are still too high now despite the substantial improvements in quality.

American companies score much better in initial quality surveys but the longer-term quality that shapes public perception of a vehicle and a company still seems to lag behind. Domestic carmakers spend between $200 to $300 more per vehicle on recalls and that has to be eliminated, she said. Harbour-Felax suggested domestic automakers have to learn to work more closely with their suppliers and treat them as part of the solution, not the problem.

Detroit Needs More Than Healthcare Cuts? (12/18/2005)
Analysts question if healthcare givebacks will be enough for a turnaround.

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Delphi Wants More Time to Plan

Delphi Corp. is asking a federal bankruptcy judge for more time to file a reorganization that will minimize the disruption to the company's business.

The new 21-page motion asking for the extension appears to bow to the fact that it will take longer than expected to prepare an acceptable reorganization plan and to negotiate a new labor contract with Delphi's unions.

Robert "Steve" Miller, Delphi's chief executive officer, had indicated prior to last week's discussions that Delphi would have a plan for reorganizing the company by February.  The plan would have outlined the company's plans for selling or spinning off parts of its manufacturing operations in the U.S., officials from the big automotive supplier said.

However, Miller's iron-fisted effort at reforming has stirred up an enormous backlash and it now has lost a lot of the momentum it had when Delphi shocked union members by filing for bankruptcy. The strong opposition among Delphi's six principal unions, which now includes an active and well-organized grass roots movement dedicated to blocking any concessions, has now alarmed Delphi's largest customer, General Motors. GM is now taking a larger role in the negotiations and has asked Miller to put more emphasis on diplomacy rather than confrontation. The decision to stretch out the development of the reorganization plan appears to be part of the strategy.

Delphi Wants More Time to Plan (12/18/2005)
Company files for extension of bankruptcy proceedings.

Ford, UAW Agree on Healthcare Cuts

United Auto Workers leaders are campaigning among Ford Motor Company workers for the ratification of changes to healthcare plans that will help save the company $850 million yearly.

Ron Gettelfinger, UAW president, acknowledged that this week's ratification vote could be tight. The vote offers the potential for disgruntled Ford workers to protest at a time when the company is preparing for another round of cutbacks that could lead to the closure of as many as 10 plants and the elimination of 30,000 jobs. So far, Ford has offered few details about the impending cutbacks.

However, Ford's management, mindful of the possibility of a backlash in the union's ranks, also announced changes in the health benefits of salaried workers. Active and retired salaried employees will now wind up paying for about one-third of their health benefits through higher premiums, co-pays and deductibles, Ford officials said. They had been paying about 26 percent of the costs. The cuts will take effect in June 2006. Ford also said the company will award merit raises next year.

Gettelfinger also said Ford has agreed to union demands to spend more on innovation and high-technology products. As part of the healthcare agreement, Ford will spend more than $1 billion on high-tech products over the next five years, said Gettelfinger, who has been critical of domestic industry executives for not paying enough attention to innovation.

Ford, UAW Agree on Healthcare Cuts (12/18/2005)
Union expected to deliver Chrysler a similar set of reductions.

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


Americans will travel in potentially record-high numbers this Christmas-New Year's holiday, despite travel costs that are up nearly across the board. AAA estimates that 63.50 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 1.7 percent increase from last year's 62.42 million travelers.

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Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 5.16 -0.03 (-0.58%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 44.61 -0.06 (-0.13%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 22.60 +0.34 (+1.53%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 14.49 +0.16 (+1.12%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 18.54 +0.02 (+0.11%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 4.55 -0.03 (-0.66%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 60.10 +0.06 (+0.10%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 89.01 +0.61 (+0.69%)
Dana Corporation DCN 6.80 -0.15 (-2.16%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 50.94 +0.38 (+0.75%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.29 +0.01 (+0.44%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 67.26 +0.26 (+0.39%)
Ford Motor Company F 8.30 +0.13 (+1.59%)
General Motors Corporation GM 21.89 -0.24 (-1.08%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 19.03 +0.07 (+0.37%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 17.50 -0.25 (-1.41%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 28.51 +0.25 (+0.88%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 73.94 +0.56 (+0.76%)
Lear Corporation LEA 28.48 +0.11 (+0.39%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 69.25 +0.31 (+0.45%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 22.41 -0.41 (-1.80%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 20.40 +0.17 (+0.84%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 22.46 -0.04 (-0.18%)
Siemens AG SI 85.51 +1.62 (+1.93%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 6.95 -0.22 (-3.07%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 98.28 +1.13 (+1.16%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 26.13 -0.63 (-2.35%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.07
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 38.75 +0.60 (+1.57%)
Visteon Corporation VC 6.59 -0.32 (-4.63%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 29.64 -1.31 (-4.23%)

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