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Ford's Bryan Olson navigates the Escape Hybrid through Times Square in New York on Tuesday. Olson was in New York to test the vehicle in the city's busiest traffic snarls and demonstrate the its' fuel economy in conjunction with the New York International Auto Show.
By Reporter
CNBC
updated 3/22/2005 7:26:08 PM ET 2005-03-23T00:26:08

Manhattan's Jacob Javitz Center is being transformed this week into a giant showroom as the New York Auto Show rolls into the Big Apple.

Manufacturers from around the world are showing off more than 1,000 of their latest creations, including cars, trucks and concept cars, from March 25 to April 3rd.

BMW's next generation 3 series, one of the automaker's most popular cars, is highly anticipated, as is the new Lexus IS sedan. Lexus' entry level vehicle is a direct competitor with BMW's three series.

Several cool concepts are also slated to be on display including Ford's Fairlane, a six passenger, three row people mover with unique three-way tailgate. Jaguar's Advanced Lightweight Coupe is a high-performance vehicle representing the future of Jag design. And Toyota's FT-SX is aimed at young families looking beyond the traditional passenger car or SUV.

U.S. automakers enter the show in somewhat of a financial slick.

General Motors says it's reevaluating its work force and could eliminate so-called white collar jobs, though it's not saying how many positions could be cut. That news came days after the world's largest automaker slashed its earnings projections for the first quarter and the full year, citing lower North American sales and production, an inability to raise prices and higher expenses for items such as health care.

GM said it expects a first-quarter loss of about $1.50 a share, compared with a previous target of break-even or better. It expects income of $1 to $2 per share for the full year, down from its previous guidance of $4 to $5. GM is scheduled to report first-quarter results Jan. 19.

The bad news have some analysts wondering if CEO Rick Wagoner's job could be on the line. In what he called a show of confidence, Wagoner bought 50,000 shares of company stock this week.

Chrysler enters the show just having won concessions on health care costs from the United Auto Workers Union. Those concessions could lead other American car makers to do the same.

Starting April 1, about 35,000 hourly workers, retirees and their families will be required to pay annual deductibles of $100 to $1,000 for health care that had previously been free, The Detroit News reported Sunday.

The division of DaimlerChrysler AG also will begin charging workers co-payments up to $12.50 for vision care. The move is expected to save Chrysler tens of millions of dollars.

GM's health care costs are growing at a pace of $400 million dollars a year, with roughly one-fourth of that covering prescriptions.

Cutting those costs is vital say experts, however there are no formal talks planned.

But this week, it's all about kicking the tires and looking under the hood as New York City becomes a giant parking lot.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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