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.
There's a new video on the web that's sure to entertain skeptics of the Chinese auto industry. It's video of a car from China's Chery Automobile faring poorly in a crash test in Russia. For those who fear the Chinese auto industry hurting the Big 3, this video will give them the ammunition they need to take shots at the Chinese.
Amid the headlines this weekend about Cerberus closing the Chrysler deal and shaking up management at the automaker, one piece of news came out that blew me away. In the second quarter, Toyota posted a record profit of $4.13 billion dollars. Sounds staggering by itself until you look at it this way: every day last quarter Toyota made more than 44 million dollars. Almost 2 million dollars a day!
Talk about moving fast. Just two days after taking ownership of Chrysler, Cerberus Capital has put a new man in charge of the struggling automaker. And it's a bold move picking an auto industry outsider. Bob Nardelli steps in as Chrysler's chairman and CEO in a move that many will question. Yet, I think this move could work for a couple reasons.
Call this the tale of two brands going in opposite directions. One knows its core market and continues to roll out hot models that win over fans. The other is drifting with sales slumping and serious questions mounting about its future. When I look at the July sales, I'm struck by the numbers at Buick. How bad was it? Sales dropped 29 % and every single model was down at least 17%. Think that's bad?
On a regular basis, I hear from bloggers who think I'm pushing Toyota and would like nothing more than to see the Big 3 implode. In fact, I got an e-mail to that effect yesterday after blogging about the possibility of Chevy and Ford being outsold by the Toyota brand. For the record, Toyota has passed Ford, but still trails Chevy by a slight margin.
When the July auto sales come out later today, the most interesting numbers to watch may be those for Chevrolet and Toyota. Halfway through this year the two were neck and neck in the battle to be America's top selling brand. I know some of you will read this and think, "who cares?". Well, the long list of people who care stretches from Detroit to Tokyo, and for good reason.
When I sat down to talk with GM CEO Rick Wagoner this morning on "Squawk Box," I was expecting to see a man, beaming over the better than expected second quarter earnings. Instead, I saw the Chairman of a company who looked cautious. Why? Well, maybe it's because General Motors' glass is half full, and filling it up even more will be a challenge. Certainly the second half of this year will be tougher than the first half.
It sounds like a Hollywood script. Futuristic looking car generates the type of buzz needed to become a star: but it never shines as predicted, flames out amid scandal, and years later its devoted fans pine and plan for the icon's revival. It's only fitting I see this story in the Los Angeles Time this weekend. The star car in question is the DeLorean. The famed sports car that has achieved greater popularity since its limited production finished in 1982.
There's a new sheriff at Dodge, and for that matter Chrysler as well. But the new boss is actually one of the old bosses. Either way you look at it, the return of Wolfgang Bernhard to be chairman of Chrysler is important for a few reasons. First, he brings the kind of urgency Chrysler needs.
No, your eyes aren't deceiving you--Ford DID post a profit of $750 million. That's right, the automaker that was sucking fumes earlier this year is now back in the black. Which brings up the question: Is this real? The answer is yes, but don't take this to mean Ford is out of the woods.
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.
The resurgence of GM shares comes as the Federal government is about to finish selling its stake.