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In an About-Face, Big 3 Put More Emphasis on Cars

January 8, 2004

To curb their enthusiasm for producing sport utilities, minivans and pickups and to fight Asia's inroads in that market, Detroit automakers are returning to their roots: cars, according to Bloomberg News.Ford Motor Co. actually has dubbed 2004 "the year of the car," hoping to draw attention primarily to new car models, including the Mustang. And General Motors Corp., seeking toget a jump on competitors, already has announced a promotion to give away 1,000 cars through Feb. 29, something never done before in the U.S. automobile industry, according to GM, Bloomberg News reported.Among GM's 13 new models this year are six new cars, including a Chevrolet Corvette and Chevrolet Cobalt, which replaces the aging Cavalier. Ford is introducing two new family sedans, the Five Hundred and Mercury Montego, designed to pick up the slack for the faltering Taurus and Mercury Sable, first introducedin 1985. DaimlerChrysler AG's most important new model in the U.S. may be its muscular-looking Chrysler 300C rear-wheel-drive sedan, according to Bloomberg.Whether the new car models will help Detroit's market share climb -- or, at least, prevent further erosion -- remains to be seen, Bloomberg News said. Gaining share could be especially difficult if the overall marketdeclines, as some believe it will.GM's free-vehicle promotion gives shoppers roughly a 1-in-5,500 chance of winning a vehicle, and will cost the automaker about $25 million. "We're going to appeal to a lot ofpeople who aren't in the market right now," said Steve Hill, director of retail planning, according to Bloomberg News.
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