Philip J. LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based at the network's Chicago bureau. He is also editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.
LeBeau has reported one-hour documentaries for the network, including "Dreamliner: Inside the World's Most Anticipated Airplane," "Ford: Rebuilding an American Icon" and "Saving General Motors."
Prior to joining CNBC, LeBeau served as a media relations specialist for Van Kampen Funds in Oak Brook Terrace, Ill., and was instrumental in implementing an initiative to communicate the company's mutual fund and investment practices to the public and the press. While at Van Kampen, LeBeau held a Series 6 license.
Previously, he held general assignment reporting positions at KCNC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Denver, and KAKE-TV, the ABC affiliate in Wichita, Kan. LeBeau began his career as a field producer at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, where he wrote, produced and researched consumer stories. He graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism with a bachelor's degree in journalism and broadcasting.
Follow Phil LeBeau on Twitter @Lebeaucarnews.
It's not quite 1999, but it sure is starting to feel like that again. Back then, leasing a car was all the rage. The percentage of leased cars, trucks, and SUVs was substantially higher, and you often heard people say, "Don't buy it. Lease it!!"
If you are in that group of people sick and tired of hearing about the popularity of the Toyota Prius, click off this page. Do it. I won't be offended and based on the e-mails I get here at Behind the Wheel, I know there are a lot of you who think the Prius is praised too much.
One is cruising. The other is sputtering. One has lived up to its fabled name. The other is a shell of what it once represented. So why is the one that is struggling getting more attention than the one riding high? Because Rolls-Royce and Jaguar are in different places and facing different questions with their new models.
Here we go again. Oil is spiking higher (over $107 a barrel) and the folks in the auto industry are once again projecting that $4 a gallon gas may be here this summer. It's sparking a new round of discussion about whether this will prompt people to change their driving habits or the type of cars/trucks/SUVs people will buy.
After numerous road trips over the last week and half, it's been a while since I had a chance to share some of your e-mails about my recent blogs. And boy have some of them touched a nerve. On VW's turnaround plan, a number of you are skeptical. Glen told me, "Phil..it's all about "R.E.L.I.A.B.I.L.I.T.Y !!!!!!! Tell the new North American CEO to improve on that!!"
When you think of Volkswagen, what pops into your mind? Let me guess: the Beetle, Microbus, and Jetta all bring a smile to your face. Then it fades as you think about the Touareg, Phaeton, and a company that often appears lost. I call it the split personality of VW.
Here's something that should make you realize what crazy times we are living in: 9-year auto loans are popping up around the country. That's right, it wasn't a typo. Nine years! 108 months! Almost a third of the time used to pay off a conventional mortgage!
Amid the gloomy comments from auto executives at the Geneva Motor Show, the unveilings of several important new models are being overshadowed. Take the new Ford Fiesta. This compact car is being sold in Europe, but the design cues and architecture behind this car will be the underpinnings of compact cars the automaker will roll out in the U.S. in the future.
GM is dropping Chevy as its primary brand for mass-market vehicles in Europe and making Opel its mainstream line.
And Ford is targeting the global market: The newest Mustang was unveiled in six cities around the world on Thursday.
Auto loan interest rates hit their lowest level in at least six years, and Americans took out a record number of loans.
Because of a surge in business from Black Friday, the auto industry posted its best monthly sales since February 2007.