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Old June 11th, 2001, 10:02 PM   #1
Magic Mtn Dan
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Virtual Car Stuff - FYI

Drive the Buick Bengal, the Hummer H2 and the Rest of GM's Hot New Concept Cars on TheCarConnection.com - Then Catch Chrysler on the Rebound, Ford CEO Nasser Ducking Bullets, and the Web's Most Accurate Pricing Guide And Buying Tips

DETROIT, June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Wonder what it's like behind the wheel of the sleek Buick Bengal? How about Cadillac's knife-edged Vizon? TheCarConnection.com goes for a ride in General Motor's hot, 2001 concept cars. You'll also drive the GMC Terracross Chevrolet Borrego, Pontiac Rev and the Hummer H2. And TCC will clue you in on which of these six show-stoppers may soon be heading for production.

For those who can't wait, TheCarConnection has a collection of new reviews this week, including the high-performance Mercedes-Benz CL55, Infiniti's all- new Q45, the latest take on the Porsche Boxster, the groundbreaking Lincoln Blackwood, and Ford's retro rocket, the Mustang Bullitt. You'll also find spy shots of the 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer XL.

In business news, TCC takes a look at one company on the rise, and another fighting to avoid some perilous pitfalls. Chrysler's new CEO, Dieter Zetsche is out to convince the world his company's on the comeback. But his counterpart at Ford, CEO Jacques Nasser, is fighting a lot of battles these days -- some inside his own company.

What's an Irishman living in London doing with Lincoln? Why, redefining the concept of American luxury! Meet the U.S. automaker's new design director, Gerry McGovern, and see what follows the LS, Blackwood and Mark 9 concept.

Gas prices have slipped a few cents in recent weeks, though they're still hovering near record levels. That doesn't seem to be fazing buyers at all, as you'll find in this week's issue of TheCarConnection. But automakers are still preparing for the worst an oil crisis might deliver. Check out this week's report on the latest in clean, fuel-efficient -- and high-performance -- high-tech powertrains.

The world, they say, is a dangerous place. Even if that's an exaggeration, it's never bad to play it safe, and TCC has some tips this week for Women's safety on the road. You'll also find tips for the week's best deals for smart car buyers; as well as Bondurant's Basics, the latest installment in our series on performance driving from the dean of race instructors. And don't miss our On-Site Mechanic's guide to better maintenance.

TCC delivers the week's racing summary, weekly consumer news, daily news updates, and real-time traffic alerts for most American cities.

You'll find all that and more on the Web's Automotive Authority, www.TheCarConnection.com .

Web users also can access TheCarConnection through the PR Newswire site www.prnewswire.com .
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Old June 12th, 2001, 09:30 AM   #2
Magic Mtn Dan
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Auto News: German Auto Market Dips in May, stronger 2nd Half Seen

German auto market dips in May, stronger H2 seen
By Madeline Chambers

FRANKFURT, June 12 (Reuters) - German new vehicle registrations fell six percent in May from the same month last year, Germany's VDA car association said on Tuesday, but many analysts still hope for a recovery in the second half.

May's decline to 358,300 units meant that in the first five months of the year new vehicle registrations fell four percent to 1.59 million, Verband der Automobilindustrie said.

New car registrations also fell six percent in May to 330,000 and four percent in the year so far.

Analysts, however, said the comparison with May last year was misleading.

"These figures were slightly worse than we had expected, but May 2000 was very strong, so it is difficult to make a meaningful comparison," Deutsche Bank analyst Lars Ziehn said.

"We still expect a recovery in the second half which will lead to an unchanged full year," he said.

Given a weak first quarter, when sales fell over seven percent, many analysts and forecasters started to rethink their expectations of a stable German auto market for 2001 after an 11 percent drop last year.

Automotive forecasters J.D. Power-LMC expects car sales to dip about 1.4 percent this year to about 3.32 million cars.

"At the start of 2001, the boost to disposable income from tax cuts was looked to as the change that would push German car demand back to normality. So far that has not happened," said Charles Young in a recent J.D. Power paper on the German market.

He noted that a time lag was not surprising, but also argued that higher fuel prices and other forms of inflation have cancelled out much of the anticipated boost to spending power.

"It is not hard to deduce what will be needed to put an end to the weakness: stronger employment growth, lower inflation and lower interest rates," he said.

However, the German economy is not looking as robust as it did at the start of the year.

International Monetary Fund director Horst Koehler was quoted on Tuesday as saying he doubted the German economy would grow this year as much as the 1.9 percent projected by the German government.

A recent report from auto sector consultancy Autopolis said German auto sales could fall 4.6 percent this year.

AUTO STOCKS FALL

Most German auto stocks fell on Tuesday's data. Some traders said the figures compared poorly with French statistics released at the start of the month which showed French new car sales up 3.8 percent in May and 4.3 percent in the first five months of the year.

At 1300 GMT, Volkswagen was the worst performer, down 2.01 percent 56.10 euros. As a volume player, it is viewed by many investors as being most exposed to auto market fluctuations.

DaimlerChrysler, suffering from worries about a costly restructuring at its U.S. Chrysler unit and from fresh concerns about its trucks activities, was down 1.79 percent at 52.76. Its luxury Mercedes-Benz unit will offer it some protection in Germany.

BMW was down 0.35 percent and Porsche fell 0.75 percent compared with a 1.2 percent decline on the Dow Jones European Auto Stoxx Index.

VDA also said vehicle exports dropped five percent in May while production fell three percent. In the first five months of the year exports rose eight percent and production rose five percent.

In April, new vehicle registrations had risen four percent and car registrations were up five percent. Analysts said that April 2000 was very weak and so the comparison was poor.

10:26 06-12-01
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