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.
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."
If you've been reading the headlines this week, you've probably seen stories about the Big 3 planning to push for pay and benefit cuts totaling 30%. Often the headline is accompanied by a sub-headline saying the United Auto Workers and the Big 3 are headed for a collision course. Folks, get ready for a long hot summer of posturing, trial contract offers being floated, and the yes, the very real possibility that we could see a work stoppage.
The latest list of hottest selling vehicles (those that spent the fewest number of days in showrooms), which is compiled by J.D. Power's Power Information Network every month includes three vehicles that were red hot in May--for three completely different reasons. And each one is an important model for their company. So let me run down the list and touch on the three models I believe are most important on this list.
If you walk in to a Saturn showroom this week, you'll find the Aura, Outlook, a Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. That's right, Saturn dealers are putting the Accord and Camry in their showrooms and challenging prospective buyers to test drive the foreign models, then test drive the Aura. You might think it's a gutsy move by a brand that, until the last year, has been a weak competitor. But Saturn, like Ford, is feeling that it has the wheels to not only stand up to Toyota and Honda, but also win over foreign car owners.
One of my favorite aspects of covering the auto industry is hearing from viewers/readers about stories I've done, models they have driven or general impressions of the industry. Often, they are well thought out. Sometimes they are so off the wall I chuckle to myself. So I'm asking you for your opinion of a very specific question: What do you think is the most misunderstood story in the auto industry?
It's the kind of news the folks in Dearborn, Michigan have been aching to receive. The latest survey on quality from J.D. Power and Associates showed a huge jump in quality for American automaker--Ford. In overall standings, Lincoln cracked the top 3, coming in third, while Mercury jumped to #8 and Ford surged to #10. Not only that, Ford Motor had 5 models that were rated as best in their class of vehicles- more than any other automaker. Can't you hear the hallelujah's in Detroit??
On Wednesday night's Business Nation we aired an in-depth report looking at Toyota's efforts to push its redesigned full size Tundra pick-up in Middle America. As I put this report together over the last month with producer Diane Simon, a few things jumped out at me. How successful will the Tundra be in middle America? Relative to how Toyota has done in the past, I believe the Tundra will improve sales in the heartland. The combination of the grass roots marketing campaign and spending more ad dollars will help the Tundra...
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.
Kelley Blue Book is estimating that auto sales will be 3.6 percent higher than the day after Thanksgiving last year.