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Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

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  • I come back from a week on the slopes of Colorado and find three tidbits about the automakers that show even in the bitter cold and dreary days of January (except in the Rockies) ... there are some interesting stories.

  • Kicking The Gas Habit. Wednesday, 24 Jan 2007 | 9:13 AM ET

    President Bush wants us to kick the gas habit and cut our use of gasoline by 20% in 10 years. Detroit's automakers have been clamoring for this by pledging to build even more E-85 ethanol cars and trucks. Still, I wonder if this will really happen.

  • Ghosn's Done Looking For A Dance Partner Monday, 22 Jan 2007 | 2:44 PM ET

    The news from Renault Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn out of eastern Europe today -- that his company is no longer seeking a third auto company for an alliance -- should send a clear message: automakers are not yet ready to consolidate.

  • A Better Benz? and Toyota's Recall Headache Friday, 19 Jan 2007 | 9:34 AM ET

    It's strange to think an entry level car is an important model for a luxury car company, but the new C-class is just that for Mercedes Benz.  When Mercedes unveiled the C-Class Thursday afternoon, the company touted better performance, more refinement, and a more aggressive look ... In other big automotive news Toyota is recalling more than 500,000 Tundra pick-ups and Sequoia SUV's due to steering problems that cause the vehicles to not stay in their lane. 

  • The Compact Craze and Changing Quality Perceptions Thursday, 18 Jan 2007 | 11:16 AM ET
    Nissan Versa

    The combination of higher gas prices and a slew of sharp, new pint sized cars helped drive American car buyers to make almost 1 out of every 3 cars bought last year a compact car.  The question is whether that surge in sales will continue in '07 - especially if gas prices continue to fall.

  • The Alliance Dance: Don't Get Too Excited. Wednesday, 17 Jan 2007 | 9:53 AM ET

    The headlines crossed the wires hours apart, from different parts of the world, and but will do little to excite investors about auto stocks. A Toyota executive on Tuesday said the automaker would be open to forming an alliance with Ford to work on specific projects-such as sharing technology. Then last night, in a speech in Dearborn, Michigan, GM CEO Rick Wagoner said the world's largest automaker is open to pursuing a alliances with other automakers based on project cooperation. My reaction?  ...

  • Tundra's Tough Test Begins Tuesday, 16 Jan 2007 | 9:55 AM ET
    2007 Toyota Tundra

    A weekend of playoff football was the perfect place for Toyota to show it's new Tundra's are every bit as tough as the full size pick-ups from Ford, GM, and Dodge. The real test is not only how many American truck buyers paid attention to the Toyota ads, but ultimately, how many people buy the new Tundra.

  • China Is Coming -- Is Detroit Too Freaked Out? Friday, 12 Jan 2007 | 11:04 AM ET

    The headline on the Detroit News on Monday was big and bold. So bold, it caught my eye as I walked through the lobby of the hotel where I was staying. "China Is Coming" it read. The message was clear in a city that has watched thousands of jobs and billions of dollars disappear over the last 20 years because of foreign competition. If Michigan automakers thought the growth of Toyota, Honda and Hyundai were scary, they...

  • Auto Show Winners Wednesday, 10 Jan 2007 | 4:14 PM ET

    Congratulations GM, Toyota, Rolls-Royce and BMW. After three days of watching new models being revealed, those 4 automakers are, in my opinion, the big winners from this year's North American International Auto Show. For the first time in many years, GM has people on the show floor buzzing. On the practical front, the new Chevy Malibu is a major improvement and better positions the Malibu to compete with...

  • Detroit Auto Show: Where are the Hybrids? Tuesday, 9 Jan 2007 | 5:38 PM ET

    When I walked up to the Toyota display here at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit I was struck immediately by the automakers change of pace. Hybrids are on the back burner.  Trucks in front center. Toyota's turnaround reflects what all the automakers are feeling about hybrids.  They're important, but no more so than well designed internal combustion cars, trucks and SUV's.

  • Ford Beware: Toyota’s Press Touts Tundra "DNA" Monday, 8 Jan 2007 | 1:38 PM ET
    2007 Toyota Tundra

    Will the Tundra freeze out America's big three automakers? The Tundra is Toyota Motor’s entry in the pickup segment – and Toyota North America President Jim Press says the giant truck is an original with “guts.” Speaking to CNBC’s Phil LeBeau at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, Press said the Tundra’s engineering was “based on the Toyota DNA.”

  • Ford EVP Fields Touts Pickups, Digital Deal Monday, 8 Jan 2007 | 12:15 PM ET

    Forget all things to all men – or so believes Ford Motor’s Executive Vice President Mark Fields - who says “polarizing” brands and products is smarter. Fields, who also holds the post of Ford’s president of The Americas, told CNBC’s Phil LeBeau how the centennial automaker plans to gain dominance in some segments – and maintain it in others.

  • CES Meets Detroit: Autonet’s WiFi-On-Wheels Monday, 8 Jan 2007 | 4:42 PM ET

    The latest thing in cars isn’t being flaunted at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It’s in a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Autonet Mobile CEO Sterling Pratz told “Squawk Box” of his company’s business model: creating “an ISP for cars.” Speaking from the Nevada gaming town, Pratz described Autonet’s system that converts autos into wireless broadband – or WiFi -- “hotspots.”

  • GM's Wagoner Sends "Volts" Through Detroit Monday, 8 Jan 2007 | 9:53 AM ET

    GM appears to be flexing new muscle at the Detroit Auto show. Not only did America’s largest auto company unveil a new muscle car, the Camaro convertible--but as CNBC’s Phil Lebau learned--GM CEO Rick Wagoner says he has clear plans to make his company equally lean and mean. On "Squawk Box" Wagoner told LeBeau he expects to see improved operating results and lower cash outflow in ’07.

  • China Cars Raise Questions At Detroit Show Monday, 8 Jan 2007 | 9:05 AM ET
    Changfeng Liebao Sedan

    The Chery-DaimlerChrysler alliance and Changfeng's "Cheetah" brand are only two of the big China stories at the 2007 North American International Auto Show.

  • On The Road To Cult Status Monday, 8 Jan 2007 | 9:04 AM ET
    1967 Ford Mustang

    Cult cars emerge regardless of marketing efforts and BMW's MINI is on the verge of joining the Ford Mustang and a select group of other autos that captured the imagination of car lovers.

  • Rolls Rolls on Topless Sunday, 7 Jan 2007 | 1:06 PM ET

    In a few days, a slew of new models will be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show. Some will blow us away. Some will make us yawn and say, "are you kidding me?" But one in particular will take your breath away. It's the new Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe. Stunning. Impressive. Yowza. I'd use those adjectives to describe the Drophead convertible I rode in and examined while visiting the Rolls Royce Motors headquarters in Goodwood, England.

  • Ford's Honest Take on Toyota and its Future Thursday, 4 Jan 2007 | 10:55 AM ET

    When I walked in to dinner with Ford CEO Alan Mulally on Wednesday night, I knew the menu would include a tasty entree, a sweet dessert, and a  healthy dose of candor. All courtesy of the "outsider" trying to turnaround the struggling automaker. I expected the honesty since that's what I found while covering Mulally as he turned around Boeing Commercial Airplanes. And at this dinner, he was forthright in his praise of Toyota.

  • Auto Sales Run Out of Gas Wednesday, 3 Jan 2007 | 3:45 PM ET

    As I'm reading the December auto sales numbers, it's clear 2006 will be remembered as a bleak one for the big 3. The healthiest of the trio, GM, is still not cash flow positive. And even though the company is in better shape today than a year ago, the fact remains, it's still in a turnaround. Look at their numbers for the final month of the year.

 

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