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Auto Report: Ford 's Reality Series, China 's Slowdown and Mercedes ' Disappointment

Ford plans to put on a reality television program in which participants design concept cars. Meanwhile, China looks to slow automotive investments and DaimlerChrylser profits rose in the first quarter, while its Mercedes division suffered operating losses.

Ford Motor Co. announced it is planning a television reality program in which participants will develop concept cars with Ford designers, according to reports in the Thursday editions of the Detroit News.

At a dealer's meeting Wednesday, the company, which is a sponsor of the popular "American Idol" reality program, showed a promotional video about the program and is working on lining up a network, the newspaper said.

In other auto market news, senior officials at China's main economic planning agency said the country will aim to slow investments in the auto industry, according to the Associated Press. The move is one of several steps being taken to cool growth in sectors whose growth is outstripping demand.

Billions of dollars in new investments have been made by foreign and domestic auto companies into new vehicle factories in the country. In March, China's Cabinet warned against overcapacity problems and said the government would limit its approvals for new auto companies.

China's car sales in the first three months this year rose 74 percent from the same period a year earlier to 890,000 units, the Xinhua News Agency reported in early April, citing data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that underlying profit at Mercedes Car Group disappointed the market on Thursday, eclipsing DaimlerChrysler's overall first-quarter operating earnings that beat analyst expectations.

Profit at DaimlerChryslers' U.S. division, Chrysler, was cut by more than half in the first quarter as a price war ranged in the crucial U.S. market, according to Reuters.

DaimlerChrysler, the world's fifth largest auto producer, saw its operating profit rise 42 percent to 891 million euros ($1.11 billion) in the first three months of 2006. The operating loss at Mercedes narrowed to 678 million euros from 954 million a year earlier.

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