Struggling automakers pin hopes on new models

It seems like new models are the holy grail for auto manufacturers in trouble. GM and Ford have been beating that drum for months, and now it's Renault and Chrysler.

Renault CEO Carlos "turnaround" Ghosn (pictured) told a French radio station today that his upcoming recovery plan for Renault, due out February 9, will have "a very strong product component." Although Ghosn wasn't specific, Reuters reports the French press as predicting that seven new car models will be launched by Renault in 2007 (vs. zero for 2006).

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond the chickens are coming home to roost for Chrysler, whose problems have so far been building quietly in the shadows of GM and Ford. BusinessWeek today turned the spotlight on Chrysler's ballooning inventory of unsold cars.

Maybe Ghosn should watch and learn from Chrysler in 2006, because Chrysler, too, is banking on new models to improve its fortunes, with the Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass CUV and Jeep Patriot SUV all due out early in 2006. By the end of the year, we can expect Mitsubishi-based Sebring and Stratus replacements.

One thing for sure, all these new cars will make it a very good couple of years for the automotive media!

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