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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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.
For the second straight year, General Motors is in a position to win the honors of North American Car and Truck of the year. The winners will be announced at the start of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit January 13th.
Here's an interesting move: take a large SUV that struggles to get great mileage and export it to a market known more for compact cars. That's what GM is doing with its HUMMER brand and its expansion into Japan. I'm not sure this makes sense.
Want further proof we're in a global auto market where the countries outside the U.S. are playing a bigger role? Consider this: there are reports that Europe is on the cusp of passing up the U.S. as #1 in the world for sales. Think about that for a second.
Oh, for the days of the gold Plymouth Duster (my friend Bob had a '72 one with three on the tree) or light green (my friend referred to it as "puke green") AMC Gremlin. Remember the old days when some automaker would come out with a funky colored car and people actually bought them?
German car maker Volkswagen AG will recall 80,000 cars from its luxury division Audi, with around 35,000 of the affected vehicles from China.
GoodYear tire company is recalling about 48,500 SUV tires after finding small cracks in treads.
Ford Motors said a charge related to its Venezuelan operations would reduce fourth-quarter profit attributable to the company by about $700 million.
General Motors isn't changing anything in the long term because of lower gas prices, CEO Mary Barra tells CNBC in Davos.
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