XM Satellite Radio Reaches Record Subscribers Mark
“XM had an outstanding fourth quarter, adding 145,000 subscribers,” said XM president/CEO Hugh Panero. “XM’s accelerating subscriber growth has been fueled by ‘the second launch of XM’ in new vehicles from General Motors and other makers, and by our ‘third launch’ into the home and portable markets with our next-generation SKYFi receivers, including XM’s first portable radio.”
“XM expects a strong 2005, with new subscribers approximately triple those obtained last year”, Panero continued. “XM is firmly established as a mass-market product.”
The first XM “boomboxes” reached retail shelves and sold out almost immediately, indicating a significant near-term market for this breakthrough product the first XM receiver requiring no installation and able to be utilized in the home or “on the go” without any adapter devices.
The Delphi SKYFi, XM’s plug-and-play radio incorporates the most advanced user features of any satellite radio on the market today. Compact and attractive, the system costs less than $200 and can be set-up in the car or virtually anywhere a subscriber chooses to enjoy XM’s 101 channels of programming.
XM’s new portable satellite radio, the Delphi SKYFi Audio System, is a strong seller. “This boombox extends XM Radio’s merchandising beyond retailers’ car stereo sections to their portable audio and HiFi departments. It also should broaden XM’s appeal to younger audiences,” Panero said.
On the OEM side, GM and other automakers like Honda and Nissan will expand their XMequipped vehicle offerings. General Motors currently provides factory-installed XM radios in 25 lines of cars, light trucks and SUVs, including household names such as Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile and Pontiac, and plans to eventually expand XM availability across its entire product line.
In the funding area, XM announced a set of definitive financing agreements totaling $450 million—consisting of $200 million in new funds from strategic and financial investors and $250 million in payment deferrals and related credit and payment facilities from GM.
XM is transforming radio, an industry that has seen little technological change since FM, almost 40 years ago. XM’s programming lineup features 101 coast-to-coast digital channels: 70 music channels, many of them commercial-free, from opera to classical to country, bluegrass to blues; and 31 channels of sports, talk, children’s and entertainment. XM’s strategic investors include America’s leading car, radio and satellite TV companies—GM, American Honda Motor Co. Inc., Clear Channel Communications and DIRECTV.
For more information, visit XM’s web site: www.xmradio.com.
Steel Shortage Squeezes Asian Manufacturers
c.2004 New York Times News Service
Since then, Suzuki Motors has said a lack of steel would force it, too, to shut down assembly lines for a few days this month, and to reduce production for the first quarter of 2005. Even the giant Toyota Motors said it has had to make adjustments in the kind of steel it buys to ensure steady supplies.
The shortfall in steel is unusual in a country that for most of the last decade has been dealing with problems of excess - too many workers, unused plants and more banks than needed - but analysts and executives say it is a problem which could become increasingly common.
Although widespread shortages are not expected, analysts say the supply of steel is likely to remain tight for at least the next six months, a situation that could drive steel prices higher, and in turn, raise costs for carmakers, construction companies and other industries that depend heavily on steel.
So far, shortages have been limited to the high-grade steel used as automotive sheet metal, but strong demand, particularly from China, for everything from ships and office towers to home appliances, is driving steel prices broadly higher. With China now the world's biggest user of steel, prices in some markets have risen 60% over the past year and analysts expect further hikes in 2005.
"This is not a problem that can be solved in the short term," Takeo Fukui, Honda's CEO, said. “Strong demand in China, India and elsewhere combined with limits on how fast steel production can be ramped up means supplies will remain tight for one, two or maybe several more years."
By Matthew L. Wald – New York Times News Service
The fleet of hybrid buses General Motors promised would save Seattle more than 750,000 gallons of fuel a year will actually save less than half that amount, according to the fleet operator. And although GM said the hybrid buses would show a fuel economy improvement of up to 60%, the savings around the country appear to be in the range of 10% to 20%, transit managers say.
GM, which got a late start bringing hybrid technology to market in cars, has argued buses are a better vehicle to convert to hybrid drive, because they are used more heavily than cars.
"We decided we would go after hybrids by going after the highest-consuming vehicles first because that would save the most petroleum,” said Tom Stephens, a GM VP for powertrains.
The company is also creating hybrid versions of its pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, although their hybrid systems are relatively small adjuncts to the gasoline engines.
But the fuel savings for GM's bus hybrids, which it named "magic buses," are more modest than for some bus hybrids already in use, and even at the current elevated price for diesel fuel the savings are unlikely to repay the cost premium for a hybrid, about $200,000, experts say. There are other benefits, however, including lower maintenance costs and smoother, cleaner operation.
All hybrids are powered by both an internal-combustion engine and an electric motor, but GM chose a "parallel" approach, in which the engine and the electric motor turn the wheels simultaneously, a technology more suited for freely flowing traffic. Many bus agencies report greater fuel savings using a "series" hybrid, in which the engine is connected only to an electric generator, with all the power to the wheels coming from an electric motor.
Some of the best results for hybrid buses have been for series hybrids running in extremely congested cities. New York City, for example, has more than 100 series hybrids on the streets and next month will begin receiving the first of an additional 200 buses with a hybrid drivetrain built by BAE Systems of Johnson City, N.Y., with a savings of 35% to 45%, according to transit officials.
© 2001 Beverly Hills Courier. All Rights Reserved.
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