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.
Is it a sign that we truly are in an iPhone world or a bleak reminder to automakers that it's tougher than ever for them to impress younger car buyers? Either way, the research is fascinating. The latest data from CNW marketing shows that younger consumers (ages 16-29) rank tech gadgets like the iPod/iPhone, gaming systems, and computers as more important than a new car when it comes to impressing friends.
Mark it down. It was this Tuesday, July 3rd--on the eve of America celebrating its independence--when one of the Big 3 made the first deal to have an American brand car built in China and sold here in the U.S. The deal is between Chrysler and Chinese automaker Chery Automotive. Chrysler CEO Tom Lasorda signed the agreement with Chery's CEO in Beijing and heralded it as a "win/win deal". Chery wins because it's collaboration with Chrysler will help that company learn the ropes of what it will take to ultimately sell Chery vehicles in the U.S.
On the eve of our country's birthday, it seems like a perfect time to celebrate the good things happening for American automakers (and yes, there are good things happening). So with that said, this 4th of July Behind the Wheel blog will include no mention of high labor and healthcare costs, dwindling market share, or the struggle to break even. After all this is the holiday to sing out, "Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet."
The headline this morning from Automotive News is hardly surprising, but it is another reminder of how the U.S. auto industry has changed dramatically in recent years. The latest data shows Japan surpassed the U.S. last year to become the world's #1 vehicle producer. It's the first time in 12 years Japan has outpaced the U.S. Not only that, but the Asian country is on track this year to expand its lead.
For investors, employees and retirees of General Motors this has been the spring of smiles. Consider this: shares of GM are at a multi-year high, Wall Street (including S&P today) is becoming more optimistic about GM's recovery and there's a genuine feeling the company will come out of the UAW contract talks in pretty good shape.
It seems obvious, but if you look at the latest survey by J.D. Power and Associates of what appeals to new vehicle buyers, there's a consistent theme. The luxury automakers are meeting the needs and desires of their customers. The top 5 on the list: Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, and Lexus. The top three are a repeat of last year's survey with Jaguar jumping into the top 5.
The bull is back at Ford. At least that's the attitude Ford is taking with the re-birth of the Taurus. But as - walk around the new Taurus being built here at Ford's plant on the south side of Chicago, I'm wondering how much of a charge this new bull will lead at Ford.
The Benz is back,. and if you don't believe me, check out sales (up 4.8%), reliability ratings (top 5 in the latest J.D. Power Survey), and strength across the line-up (The S Class, GL Class, and C Class are all surging). In short, Mercedes has re-asserted itself as a leader in the luxury car market. Now comes the new C Class. The company is showing it off for reporters this week outside of Portland, Oregon.
Talk about a perfect time to market a fuel efficient sub-compact car. Gas prices are well over $3.00 a gallon. Sub-compact cars are hot. And if there's a new model the public has yet to see on the street, publicity will be huge. It's the perfect culmination of events that are helping to generate greater interest and "reservations" with car buyers around the country. The new Smart fortwo (not a typo) sub-compact doesn't go on sale until early next year. But the buzz about this tiny car that's expected to get over 40 miles on a gallon, is big and getting bigger.
A week ago, while doing a live shot for an unrelated story, a viewer, who's husband worked at Ford for years, came up to me and said, "Tell people all the good things happening at Ford, we need the good news to get out." This is not the first time I have heard this type of message, either in person or via e-mail, from an investor, worker, retiree, or just plain fan of the big 3. Often the message includes a side comment such as, "Quit telling people the public doesn't believe in the quality/reliability of the big 3, because that's not true."
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.