Phil 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" and "Failure to Recall: Investigating GM."
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.
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It was nowhere as close as the presidential races taking place in Iowa. Nor does it have the level of importance that goes with a presidential caucus. But when we asked you to let us know which automaker has the most to prove in 2007, you made it clear, by a long shot, that Ford is the automaker on the hot seat.
Maybe it's because of the Iowa caucus' taking place Wednesday night. Maybe it's because at the start of a new year, it's a good time to make predictions. Or maybe it's because the auto show season is about to kick off with the automakers putting out their visions for the future. Whatever the reason, I think today is the day to ask YOU which automaker has the most to show, prove, gain, lose in 2008?
With Detroit essentially shut down for the week between Christmas and New Year's, it's a good time to step back and hand out "The Rodneys": The car and auto brands that -- taking a note from comedian Rodney Dangerfield -- don't get enough respect, according to you, the reader.
With Detroit and much of the auto industry shut down this week and gearing up for the Detroit Auto Show next month, I thought it would be a good time to take a few minutes and share my Christmas wishes for the auto world. I hope Santa brings you everything you want.
I'll admit it, I've never really been a big Corvette fan. Don't get me wrong, I clearly see the car's appeal. But for my money, the 'vette has always been a solid sports car that failed to blow my doors off. I know, you 'vette fans are reading this and saying, "You are wacked Toyota Phil."
As we close out this year, I know some of you are asking, "Hey Toyota Phil (a nickname a friend gave me after accusing me of giving the Japanese automaker too much praise) what do you think will happen in the auto industry next year?" Well, since you asked, and I know some of you haven't asked, here are my prognostications for 2008.
Just for a minute, I want you to block out the opinions you have about certain auto brands. So if you always see BMW's as refined and stylish, stop. Or if you think Hyundai's are overrated, hold it. OK, now that you have a clear mind, think about this: Saturn, Suzuki, and Buick are changing their acts and are increasingly being seen in a positive light by car buyers.
As I've been talking about for some time, and as we've seen from auto sales in the last couple of months, the price of gas IS causing people to shift the kinds of vehicles they are planning to buy. The latest evidence comes from Kelley Blue Book.
Not only are the retro-looking travel-trailers still being built by hand, but the company also can't keep up with demand.
The Tesla Roadster is getting a battery upgrade that will allow it to drive several hundred miles without recharging.
High-cost, short-term car title loans are leading people to take out risky lines of credit.
Aston Martin has recalled 7,256 vehicles due to faulty electronic modules in their front seat heaters.
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