November 2nd, 2009 at 12:00pm
Ford reported solid earnings today, posting a net profit just shy of $1 billion in the third quarter. Audi posted an operating profit of almost 350 million euro in the third quarter. A new report says that the auto industry remained one of the highest spenders in R&D last year. All that and more, plus a look at some of Acura’s latest product updates.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Ford blows through Wall Street’s expectations. Audi moves solidly in the black. And guess which industry spends more on R&D than any other?
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, November 2, 2009. And now, the news.
Ford reported solid earnings today, blowing through Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts forecasted a loss of 14 cents a share. Instead, Ford earned 26 cents, posting a net profit just shy of $1 billion. Ford’s North American operations posted a pre-tax operating of $357 million. In fact, Ford posted an operating profit in every geographical region where it operates. And it generated $1.3 billion of positive cash flow.
So, does this mean Ford has turned the corner? No, not completely, not yet. It will still probably post losses in upcoming quarters and said it will not be fully profitable for a full year until 2011. Also, the UAW rejected concessions to make the company competitive with GM and Chrysler. And now Ward’s reports that aerospace blogs and message boards are beating the drums to try and get Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally to return to Boeing (subscription required).
In another sign that the global economic crisis may be abating, Audi posted an operating profit of almost 350 million euro in the third quarter, about $515 million. It may be in the black, but profits are still down nearly 55 percent from the same time last year. With the company making money, a spokesman says it’s focusing on developing advanced new electric vehicles and drivetrains, which ties into our next story.
A report from consulting firm Booz & Co., says that the auto industry remained one of the highest spenders in R&D last year among all industries, despite the economic downturn. According to the Detroit News, five of the top 20 R&D spenders were automakers, Toyota was tops on the list for the third year in a row, spending $9 billion on R&D and GM was the next automaker on the list, spending $8 billion. Even though most major automakers cut spending on research, the industry as whole increased R&D expenditures to $86 billion.
Bridgestone announced it will put out of Formula One after the 2010 season. According to Bloomberg, the tire company is spending up to $100 million a year on the series, and will use those savings to develop new technologies and strategic products. Bridgestone is the sole supplier of tires to Formula One.
A Nebraska man has been accused of stealing parts from the Toyota dealership he worked at and selling them on eBay. The Omaha World Herald reports that authorities have searched his online PayPal account and discovered that he received nearly $550,000 for stolen Toyota parts. The scheme has gone on since at least 2001. Among other things, he sold 798 pickup truck bed extenders, 375 skid plates and 363 roof racks. Ironically, he was a hit on eBay, receiving lots of positive feedback and glowing reviews.
Coming up next, a look at some of Acura’s latest updates, we’ll be back right after this.
Despite the economic slump, Acura is updating three of its most important products. The entry-level TSX gets enhancements that make it more appealing to a wider group of buyers. The biggest news about the smallest Acura sedan is the addition of an optional V6 engine. At 3.5-liters, it puts out 280 horsepower, 79 more than the base four-cylinder.
Also at the smaller end of the spectrum is the brand’s RDX crossover. Like the TSX, it gets an array of upgrades and tweaks including restyled bodywork and interior refinements. But the biggest news is the availability of a two-wheel-drive model that offers some surprising benefits.
Of course Acura didn’t leave its larger vehicles out of this sweeping refresh. Even though it was just redesigned a couple years ago, the popular MDX gets some big upgrades, too. The most obvious changes to this seven-seat crossover are on the outside, but underneath it features the brand’s first-ever six-speed automatic transmission. It also gets some new technology, including a multi-view backup camera.
The refreshed TSX and RDX are available on dealer lots right now, but the new MDX isn’t out yet. It’s expected to arrive in December.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.