Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

U.S. sales of domestically produced light vehicles

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A slowdown in U.S. construction, tight credit market conditions and weak consumer confidence have contributed to the overall slump in U.S. auto market over the past three years. Many analysts believe the industry will not see significant recovery in 2009.  — Datastream and Thomson Reuters Proprietary Research

Automaker stocks underperform

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Share prices for GM and Ford – the only components in the S&P 500 Auto index – have been underperforming the broad market for the past four years as sales began to slump and both automakers started to slash costs and cut costs — Source: S&P, Thomson Reuters Proprietary Research

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Audio – Not just a U.S. problem

buzz1.jpgThe problems at U.S. automakers have many obvious effects on the national, state and local economies in the United States, but those effects are felt in Canada as well and they have left one long-time industry observer fearful.

Buzz Hargrove, former president of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union, expressed some of those concerns on Wednesday at the Reuters Autos Summit.

Audio – Why help Detroit?

tim1.jpgAs with most issues, there are two sides to this one as well. and both were heard this week at the Reuters Autos Summit in Detroit.

The U.S. government has committed to spending $25 billion to help the U.S. automakers finance needed changes in production, manufacturing and design. And if the Detroit automakers get their way, that number will end up being more like $50 billion.

Audio – Fritz Henderson: Raw!

henderson2.jpgOK, that headline might be a little bit misleading for a posting about the difficulty of predicting raw materials prices, but it catches the eye.

Fritz Henderson, chief operating officer of General Motors Co, told the Reuters Autos Summit this week about how the wild price swings in critical raw materials make it especially difficult to predict profitability and margins.

Audio – But who knows where or when …

mulally4.jpgIt’s an old song of course, made famous during World War II, but the sentiment rings true for the U.S. auto industry these days.

For Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Alan Mulally before the automakers can really see a meaningful turnaround a number of factors need to be present — and almost all of them deal with a stronger consumer situation.

Audio – Liking that “first-mover” status

brown1.jpgAdriane Brown,  president and chief executive of Honeywell Transportation Systems, has had a pretty good year.

In July, Brown’s group was chosen to manufacture new turbochargers for Ford vehicles, which will be used on Ford’s forthcoming 2010 Lincoln MKS with EcoBoost. The V-6 engine will offer performance comparable to a V-8, while using less fuel.

Audio – Sad September

zuchowski1.jpgUsually, when an automotive executive speaks to a group of reporters (hard-edged though we might all think we are), there’s a lot of nodding, maybe some typing or note-taking or positioning to get that next good question in.

But sometimes, a surprise or two shakes people up a little. Such was the case on Tuesday morning at the Reuters Autos Summit, when Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai’s head of U.S. sales, gave his outlook for September sales for the first 10 days.

Audio – Sure, we like leasing!

lentz1.jpgIf there’s been something most of the guests have discussed this week at the annual Reuters Autos Summit, it’s been leasing.

While Chrysler recently stopped leasing and Ford and General Motors have lessened their reliance on it, Toyota’s president of U.S. sales Jim Lentz said on Tuesday that his company plans to keep on leasing.

Audio – Watch your wallets!

ron2.jpgUnited Auto Workers head Ron Gettelfinger has been around long enough to know that sometimes things can change very quickly.

But, in managing the union’s new, $38 billion pool of retiree funds, also called a VEBA (Voluntary Employee Benefit Association), Gettelfinger said at the annual Reuters Autos Summit that he and his union will be keeping a close eye on Wall Street and the managers of the funds.

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